Ever been on a vacation where you did too much? You tried to do too many things and it hampered your ability to enjoy the experience. What’s the work equivalent? The bosses and team have confirmed the need to make changes to produce better results. You’re given new roles, and even been given special training. You’re excited, and then you find out that all the things currently on your plate will stay. Good luck maximizing the experience! So why do managers hesitate to clear the way to ensure maximum focus on the new approach?
I have three observations of this moment and approaches leaders take to put change into motion:
- Don’t over-analyze, act!
- Clarify instill new behaviors.
- Adjust the current structure.
In posts #’s 1 and 2 on this series we examined the “Don’t over-analyze, act!”, and “Instill Essential New Behaviors” by sharing seven ways to help managers avoid tweaking.
Post #3 addresses the need to: Adjust the current structure.
During a conversation on the need to assess talent, a respected leader told me: ‘shrubs and plants require pruning in order for the plant to both grow and thrive.’ Managers that tweak aren’t making the tough decisions of staff and structure, and they stall the growth that new energy and talent can bring. By ‘pruning’ my mentor clearly meant moving forward with the staff, reporting structure, and roles needed to succeed.
What to do? Here are my keys to adjusting the structure and staff:
1. First, name the old and new roles needed: “We will no longer do this, we must do this instead.” Resist starting with the current organization chart. Instead, start with the roles and functions needed to succeed. By first placing these roles in writing it keeps the focus on the essential new work. Important: This step speaks to the ‘how’ of achieving the behaviors needed to succeed. Including the maximum number of current team members in this process is essential to maximizing buy-in and the transparency needed to move forward successfully. Often, managers are surprised at the insights provided by their team members and the number that gravitate (volunteer) to roles that suit their interests.
2. Eliminate the obsolete: “We will identify, - then curtail or eliminate - the activities that are not consistent with what we must do.” Analyze your current use of time, processes, roles, and activities. It’s simple math. Leaders must eliminate at least 30% of current activities in order to free up the resources needed to meaningfully change. And here’s the biggest secret. While the team should have input on what must be curtailed or eliminated, I’ve never worked with a client where it didn’t take the CEO/leader to make the final decision to eliminate the necessary items. The leader must constructively share any risk by formally approving such decisions.
3. Align resources and people: “We will align new roles and activities to maximize productivity.” Genuine changes to roles, behaviors, and activities will result in a need to shift how you operate, and this often means changes in reporting, hierarchy, and success metrics. Embrace the changes, and include the input of your full team as you consider the best framework.
It’s about renewal. Whether changing functions or pruning the shrubs, we know the difference between a trim and an overhaul, and we all know that a trim is simply not likely to produce the results required to succeed. Embrace the change, and good luck!