How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Restructuring a Department

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Large roundtable meeting with employees
Large roundtable meeting with employees (Image: Robert Churchill/iStock/Getty Images)

Reorganizations can be necessary to reflect changing business models or economic conditions, but they can be disruptive to both staff and customers without proper planning and execution. Developing a strategic plan for a departmental restructuring requires communication throughout the process. When the plan is finally revealed, some may not like the results, but nobody should feel blindsided by them.

Tell your senior leadership that you’re considering restructuring a department to reflect changing market conditions. Form a group of key individuals within the company to serve as an analysis and planning team to think through the business needs surrounding the department and how it should look when the restructuring is completed.

Talk to key customers and consumers of your department’s products and services to find out their expectations for your department. These could be internal customers, external customers or both, depending on the situation. Determine what problems they have with your department’s quality, speed and responsiveness.

Identify the reasons for the restructuring and how this change will add value to the department and the business. Tie this back to the department’s mission and the company’s mission and value statements. As you continue to develop the plan, make sure the changes lead your department along this path.

Analyze your department’s current processes. Compare those to its organizational mission and separate core processes from those duplicated elsewhere within the business or that are secondary to completing the department’s objectives. Identify the gaps between the actual and desired performance. Determine how the existing structure enables or hinders performance and customer satisfaction.

Redesign processes to help determine the best path for creating a more efficient departmental structure. These revisions should improve customer and stakeholder satisfaction and increase efficiency. Reducing cost also may be a part of these objectives, but consider this in relation to the process redesign. Workforce reductions that sap your ability to conduct needed processes won’t help your department succeed.

Determine where the organizational structure needs altering. New positions may need to be created or current positions may need have their roles and expectations clarified. Assess whether your current staff has the skills and capabilities to meet new roles and requirements. If not, you’ll need to develop a training plan to get them up to speed or make new hires to fill the breach.

Plan your implementation strategy. Develop a time frame for when this new structure will be installed. Clarify who in the new departmental structure has decision-making power. Write a new organizational chart and position descriptions to clarify to your staff what their expectations are. If you need additional staffing, use those position descriptions to help lead you in the right direction.

Engage with your human resources department to plan for the transition. Determine if there are positions elsewhere in the company for those made redundant by the departmental restructuring. If the restructuring will result in layoffs, follow established procedures to ensure there's no appearance of bias in the decisions.

Communicate with employees. Your staff likely will view a restructuring as a means of reducing headcount, so employees may be skeptical of the restructuring. By keeping them in the loop, you both reduce the influence of the rumor mill and give them confidence that there's a plan in place other than just reducing departmental headcount.

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