In this article, we’ll look at some essential steps to take that can minimize resistance when restructuring applicable business processes.
The best way to reduce resistance is by focusing on individual change, since employees are the ones who will be driving a change project forward.
With employee support, a change project will stand a much greater chance of succeeding.
If employees don’t support that change, however – by actively resisting change or by underperforming, for instance – then the change program itself can underperform.
In worst case scenarios, this means that the change program will fail entirely.
However, with the proper change management approach, it is possible to reduce employee resistance when restructuring business processes.
A Guide to Restructuring Applicable Business Processes
Here are a few steps to take both before, during, and after the implementation of a restructuring process.
Design the right restructuring plan
First and foremost, it is important to develop an appropriate solution to the problem at hand.
The right organizational change plan is crucial for several reasons:
- An improper solution will deliver poor results after the change program completes
- Poorly designed solutions will be less likely to earn support from business leaders
- Employees will be more likely to resist during the project’s implementation
However, having a sound restructuring plan is not enough – stakeholders must understand that program, its benefits, and their role in the change.
Build awareness through a strategic communications plan
A strategic communication strategy will accomplish several objectives, one of which is to build awareness of the need for change.
If employees are not made aware of this need, then resistance is almost inevitable.
It is important co communicate:
- The need for change
- The reasons for the change
- Why this solution was chosen
- The roles and responsibilities of those involved
Awareness is essential, but it is only one step among several – to gain proactive support, employees must actually want to engage with the change project.
Motivate by selling stakeholders on the value of the program
Motivation is essential for the success of a restructuring project.
Motivated employees will be more:
Without that motivation, employees will be unlikely to proactively support a restructuring effort. Though they may not resist the program actively, they may not actively support it.
And all of these qualities, in turn, will improve the outcomes of a change project – further reducing the potential for resistance within the workforce.
Provide skills and knowledge through employee training
Without the proper training, employees will be unprepared for a change project.
And throwing employees into a restructuring effort without the proper knowledge will feed feelings of alienation and besiegement.
The natural result:
Given the substantial difficulty of implementing organizational changes, such resistance should be mitigated and minimized as much as possible.
However, there are other ways to increase support for a change program, above and beyond providing the proper skills training…
Incentivize, reward, and compel action
Rewarding desirable behavior is another way to increase support and lower resistance for a restructuring effort.
Incentive programs have been proven to improve engagement in the short-term, making them an excellent tool to add to a change manager’s toolbox.
Though incentive programs are not always recommended for long-term use, they can spur engagement during such critical processes as restructuring efforts.
Incentives can include:
- Financial compensation
- Recognition and praise
- Perks, gifts, and rewards
Different employees and workforces will respond differently to to different types of rewards, so organizations should assess their own circumstances then choose the most appropriate incentive program.
Mismanaging a restructuring effort can easily lead to employee resistance and project failure.
To improve the execution of this program, it is important to focus on:
- Timing. In many cases, organizations will restructure too late, which can make restructuring efforts more difficult and costly. If the need is recognized, it is best to move early.
- Resource allocation. Allocating resources during restructuring efforts is one of the most important and difficult decisions to make. Disagreements can easily give way to hostile disputes, which must be prevented through level-headed leadership and negotiation.
- Details. Change management frameworks often revolve around the same course of action, such as building awareness, motivating employees, and providing adequate training. However, every change project is unique, so it is important to pay attention to the detailed circumstances that can impact the outcomes of a program.
Leadership and management require a nuanced approach and a broad range of skills, which is why it is important to choose the right leaders.
Cement changes through reinforcement and accountability systems
To keep restructuring efforts stable over the long term, it is important to reinforce changes.
Incentive programs, mentioned above, are one approach that can help reinforce changes over the long term.
However, there are other approaches, such as those recommended by Prosci:
- Accountability systems
- Performance measurements
For a period of time after a restructuring effort is complete, organizations should continue collecting feedback from employees.
Their insights can help managers track the effects of the restructuring effort, its impact on employees’ mindsets, the cultural impacts, and so forth.
That information can then help managers decide which reinforcement mechanisms are most suitable.