Every small business has an ever-changing environment inside its walls. Many companies are launched by one person with a specific skill. That person grows the business until the workload gets to be too much, and an employee is added—then another and another. Everyone works across departments, and soon the owner realizes that in order to grow to new heights, the company needs a reorganization.
“In the short term, it can be a great growth opportunity for employees to try different roles, but after a while, you start to lose efficiencies, and the need comes when it gets important for people to focus on specific tasks or jobs,” says Regina Barr, founder and CEO of Red Ladder, an organizational consulting and executive coaching firm based near St. Paul, Minn.
This change in mindset can shake things up in a small business, and cause employees to worry about job security and the direction of the business. There’s lots of things to consider when you’re making changes, so here are some tips on executing a reorganization:
Focus on transparency & solicit feedback
Open communication is key to a successful reorg. You don’t need to detail every single issue on the table, but “give them as much information about why you need to make this change as possible,” recommends Barr. “Explain what’s in it for them, and ask them to be part of the process.”
Barr’s second point is especially key: Employees who care about your business will want to be involved in the change process. Schedule meetings where you solicit feedback, and document all suggestions. Explain that you’ll take their notes into account when making decisions, and that you want them to be part of the process. This open attitude may alleviate some of the concerns of your staffers.
Communicate a strong message
One meeting about a reorg isn’t going to do the trick. Communicate a strong, consistent message across the board—several times and across many different formats, in what Barr calls a “many times and in many ways” communication motto. This recognizes the value of connecting with everyone in your organization. Different people respond to different things, so by communicating in as “many times and in many ways,” you’re making sure everyone understands your message.
If you feel like you’d be belaboring the point by reiterating it over and over, consider that you may have already been thinking about a reorg for a long time, maybe even years. Conversely, this will be a new concept to your employees, so be sure to have patience, communicate often, and open yourself up to questions and feedback.
Empathize with the concerns of your employees
Reorganizing may include letting people go. If it does, do so with as much compassion as possible. Explain the reasoning for the change to your entire team and then show that you are empathetic not only to the employees you let go of, but also the ones who will stay with the business.
“Entrepreneurs often get caught up in the technical side of things—the ‘what’ of what we are doing,” says Barr. “But it is important to remember that people drive a company forward. Be prepared for people who may have an emotional response to the changes you are implementing and provide them an opportunity whenever possible to work through those emotions.”