Restructuring? You must take an ethical approach during this crisis

On a daily basis I speak to C suite leaders of large corporates. It doesn’t take a data scientist to get that with the government’s furlough scheme soon coming to an end, there is a significant amount of restructuring about to happen.

It will be interesting to see how large businesses react. I hope that businesses will take in to account that this time is different than normal, people have long memories and will remember those that do the right thing and those that don’t.

You can already see from the negative press that a certain airline entrepreneur has had, that this isn’t the same as before.

Business leaders should heed Warren Buffett’s advice “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”

In a typical recession, cuts are broad and indiscriminate, this time (from the conversations I have been having), it seems that companies are taking a more nuanced approach.

There are 3 key themes that come up time and time again:

 

Companies are mindful of the reputational damage associated with how they act during this crisis

Staff are often a significant part of a company’s P&L and are one of the quickest ways to reduce cost. During most recessions, mass redundancies are one of the first things that happen.

Government intervention has paused this for a lot of companies but it hasn’t gone away. Companies need to be mindful of the reasons why they might make redundancies.

If it’s because your levels of business have dropped and you are facing a liquidity crisis – people will understand.

If it’s because the CEO needs to keep profits up to keep the share price stable (and to get a bigger bonus), people will remember this for some time to come and it will have a negative long term impact on business reputation and ultimately performance.

 

Employees have realised how to get stuff done quickly (and have generally delivered it well)

Business leaders seem surprised at how easily people in operations have delivered things. Actually getting on and doing the job they are paid for… Who would have thought?!

It won’t come as a surprise, that given UK PLCs productivity challenge, that many companies are now reviewing their management structures with a view of having the right business people in the most effective roles.

In my view there is going to be a significant need for organisation design, change professionals and management consultancies to help businesses come out of this crisis in the right shape.

The common themes are to work out the most efficient structures, to define what job roles the organisation might need in a future state and to ensure that technology is adopted.

 

Communication and engagement has never been so important

Transparency is going to be key as we come out of this.

If your company is in trouble, I would suggest telling people the truth. People are well aware of the magnitude of what is going on around them, they might not like some of the business decisions that are made but they won’t appreciate being lied to.

Honesty brings people together around a shared cause or purpose. The more engaged and knowledgable people feel, the better their ability to understand and support decisions being made.

Remember, a few months ago that ‘Talent’ was in short supply and although the fundamentals may have changed in the short term. People will remember how their leaders have acted and how they have made them feel during a crisis. The best people will leave when things get better if they haven’t been treated in the right way.

 

Thinking of hiring an interim executive? You need to get it right! Discover the 8 step process you should follow, by downloading our free eBook here.

James Cumming is our Interim and Transformation Search specialist. Please get in contact with him directly to discuss any of these topics further.

The Interim role at board level

The Interim role at board level
The Interim role at board level

Business change and transformation – following the recession – moved to centre stage and it’s remained there! Many businesses, particularly those who have lost talented staff at all levels, are now faced with the opportunity for growth, but with a host of new challenges. These challenges include new competitors, technology and changing markets and businesses are beginning to realise that they can’t “transform” gradually, but need to make a step change and that’s where the ‘Professional Interim Executive’ earns their money and reputation.

The vision

It starts with a CEO or a Chairman that has the vision –sometimes this individual is also an interim recruited by a parent company or arriving via private equity –but more frequently, somebody who recognises the challenge and whilst valuing the talents of their existing team recognises that they are too embedded in how the organisation has operated, to be able to take a fresh view without some help. Often the first challenge for an interim at board level is to convince senior colleagues that they are not there to ease them out. (Although sometimes that is necessary!) But to help them take a fresh view of their business, the market, the customers, the operating processes and both develop and implement new strategies that will make change happen immediately.

Post-recession

What has changed “post-recession” is the speed of change. Whilst businesses have always been changing, there has been an acceptance that “change doesn’t happen overnight” and it can’t happen if the whole organisation isn’t on board. To use another analogy, “a long journey starts with a small step”. In 2014, that small step needed to be a leap, followed by a number of big steps, otherwise the change would falter and those first few steps will come to a halt.

In 2019, it is much of the same. Change is very important for businesses and bringing in an interim can help to make change happen quickly and effectively. It is even more fundamental now with all the uncertainty for businesses around Brexit.

The interim role

Businesses bring in interims at different levels in the organisation, sometimes to lead particular projects, sometimes to fill vacancies during a recruitment process and sometimes because a function/departmental head has seen the need to “transform” their particular function. All valid reasons for recruiting an interim, but real change has to come from the top and that requires the main ‘change agent’ to be operating at the ‘Senior Leadership Team’ level. It doesn’t have to be the CEO, however, clearly the CEO has to be receptive and supportive.

It is an exciting time to be an interim, but it’s vital for the future and the reputation of the profession, that we recognise that whilst you need to be committed to any business you work with, as an interim you are not “part of the business”, but there to take a fresh perspective. Once you begin to feel part of the business, it’s time to end the contract!

Paul Duncan is the founder of Duncan Paul Ltd, an experienced HR/Change Director and Business Expert. Paul provides consultancy providing strategic advice on the management of Change Management, Business Transformation, Business Strategy and Planning, Organisational Design and Development, and Employee Relations (Union Negotiation at all levels).

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

What is organisational development?

 

What is organisational development?
What is organisational development?

 

A lot has changed since I started re:find 4 years ago, but the principles are still the same. I want to help make your business better, through recruiting the right people!

I want to go back to the start and look into my world of organisational development (OD). As an OD expert, I help build high performing businesses. Yes, it is a fancy title. So what is it exactly that I do?

OD is about how organisations’ function and, more importantly, how they can work better. There is no one single OD theory, but there are plenty of best practice models that give discipline to my work which is a combination of “hard” and “soft” issues.

Hard issues such as the external environment, vision, strategy, structure, tasks and skills. Soft issues such as culture, values, work climate, motivation, management practices and individual needs. Hard or soft, my end game is always to help your business achieve great individual and organisational performance.

Re-creating your strategy
Technological, demographic and geographic change is constant, whether we like it not. I have a view that organisational development (OD) should be a constant, organic, evolving process of change, improvement and development to meet what is an ever-changing internal and external market.

What does this mean for you, the business leader? There are one-off situations where a leader finds something that they find distinctly undesirable and wants to change it. Mostly, OD is about being on the ball, revisiting core business capabilities, revising old strategies or implementing new strategies to make sure that your business survives and thrives, in line with the market.

So I encourage my clients to think about the product, where it sits in its sector, competitors, suppliers, customers, technological advances and the threat of new entrants into the market – the stuff of Porter’s five forces.

Are you a market leader or follower? Are you asset light or asset heavy? Who’s doing something new out there? Keep your market intelligence up to date. As Jack Welch once said, “Change before you have to.”

When you make a change to a strategy it always has a knock-on on effect on certain areas of the business – structure, process, people and culture. Some experts will argue which is affected first. Stop! All are interconnected and have to be considered in the round.

So, exactly what part do I play? Well, I help you to recreate your strategy.

Process
Changing strategy means some of your core processes will change. Your team, using their end to end technical process knowledge, will now need to assess, analyse, discover, redefine and redesign certain processes. This will be key to maintaining and improving service to customers and should not be rushed.

You will need a disciplined method of considering workflow design, IT, motivation and measurement, policies and rules, people, resources and facilities.

I can help you redefine the process. Some folk call it ‘business process re-engineering’.

Structure
The new process will impact the structure and reorganisation of staff, resources and facilities. Policy led and technological systems will have to be addressed.

Technology is an enabler for strategy. Since the days of the Luddites, technological advances have meant that smart machinery has replaced skilled workforces and that the smart machinery has required a new set of technical expertise to maintain and develop.

I can help you to design the proposed organisation model.

People
Today, we are all technologists with our smartphones, iPads and social media, but most people still don’t like change. Communicating your logic and passion for change, consulting and listening and remaining organized, tenacious, sensitive to reactions, adaptable and resilient will help you to make a successful change.

I can help you gain acceptance of change and manage the transformation programme.

Culture
Your current core capabilities, management systems and culture are likely to limit your ability to implement the new strategy and will also need to be adjusted.

Company culture is difficult to change and sometimes it is a case of “working with what you have got” and morphing it into “what you need”, to drive the strategy. Leadership, reward, training, employee branding, recruitment, management practices and other motivating factors can be introduced to help culture evolve. Perhaps the most powerful impact on culture comes from a good learning infrastructure.

Your culture is unique and I can help you call on the creativity, best practices and lesson learned from other organisations.

Darwin once said, “It’s not the strongest species that survive, or even the most intelligent. It is those most adaptable to change”.

He has a point you know!

Ruth Gawthorpe is the founder of The Change Directors. She is an expert in Organisational Devlopment, HR and Change Management and works with organisations to help them build high performance cultures. Ruth is passionate about using her skills to support executive teams to get the results quickly and smoothly and would like to share her lessons learned and wisdom with you.

 

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.