How NOT to Reorganize

7 Easy Steps To Ensure Chaos!

Over lunch last week, a dear friend told me a story of how her work group was going through some significant change. Unfortunately, the way it has been handled by management is a textbook example of how not to institute change in an organization.

The Back Story: By all measures, the work group had always delivered excellent performance for customers and the organization. However, recent changes in the economy required a reorganization of the work group. The main thrust of the effort was to change work schedules, many of which had been in place for years and had been created by the team itself. The team understood the need for changes, but the method of implementation has led to frustration, a slide in performance and distrust of management, as well as disharmony among the team members.

Management’s Method: The new schedules were created without input from the work group, and as soon as they were shared, the employees could see the problems that would be created by the new schedule; not just for individuals, but for the work group, customers and the department. When these issues were presented to management, they were dismissed as examples of complaining, bad attitudes and resistance to change. The message heard by employees was, “If you don’t like it, tough. Make it work.”

The Lessons: This example has given us a great plan for ensuring that the benefits of reorganization are completely undermined. So, if you want to make sure a desired change effort fails, here’s all you have to do:

  1. Don’t spend too much time on the “Why” of the change. Employees don’t need to know why, just when and how much.
  2. Create a solution without input from those most affected. After all, you’re the boss, right? You have all the best ideas.
  3. Present the solution as a done deal. Any indication that the solution isn’t written in stone is sure to generate a lot of pesky questions and suggestions. And that’s never good.
  4. Don’t bother explaining the benefits of the change for the employees, the organization or customers. The only benefit they need to know is that if they fall in line, they might get to keep their jobs.
  5. Disregard employee questions, concerns and ideas. They’re just resistant to any new ideas.
  6. Divide employees by their response to the solution: those who agree are “Team Players”, and those who don’t are “Troublemakers.” Done correctly, they’ll be so busy attacking each other that they won’t have time to make your life miserable.  Important tip: if they come to you with interpersonal problems, direct them to work it out amongst themselves.
  7. Take the credit and pass on the blame. If it works, make sure your bosses know it was all your doing. And if it doesn’t, just pass the blame on to those Troublemakers, Whiners and Complainers you’ve been stuck with.

Follow these steps, and you’re sure to create chaos, disharmony and a decline in performance. And you can avoid making any real, substantial change while looking busy at the same time!


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