Rethinking your structure? Focus on this one principle.

During this crazy time of homeworking what it means to be in a team is shifting and evolving. Some of these initially temporary changes might evolve to be a new structure for our team or organisation.

Rather than being purely reactive to a challenging situation, are we using this as an opportunity to ask tough questions of our business?

  • Does this setup still make sense?
  • Does it allow us to be as effective as we can possibly be?
  • Should we be setting up for stability or growth?

They are just some of the questions I’m sure we are somewhat familiar with.

In the last six months we have been working with three very different organisations on restructure to teams or the companies as a whole. Since so many of us are going to be considering our structures either now or in the near future, here is the number one principle that is vital to getting a team restructure right:

Build for purpose not for people.

Well, “duh”. But equally, it will not take much effort to think of a restructure we were part of or heard about, that seemingly made no sense. Perhaps it caused upheaval all over the business but kept some of the same people (not unusually the most senior people) in place and so problems persisted? Or, maybe the new structure looked oddly familiar, but the titles, oh they were certainly shiny and new. So we know it is obvious, but all too often we know it’s not how it goes.

The truth is, this is a tough one to actually do and commit to all the way. We like our people. We want to make sure there is a role for them in the new structure. But if we approach the process thinking about where people fit, then we miss the fundamental part of a restructure – building something for stability or growth relative to the perceived future. This requires us to commit to step back and be dispassionate about our organisations and we know that this is extremely difficult.

Building for people rather than purpose also assumes one crucial fallacy – that people cannot pivot and adapt. But just look at what our people have achieved over this period of unrivalled uncertainty… Do we really think that is true?

This is why building for purpose is so important. Once we are clear on what type of team or business we want, how we want to work and what our goals are, then we can staff the new structure.

Build for purpose not for people.


Tinashe is part of the Interactive Workshops team working with organisations to deliver TeamBooster – people development for fast-growth teams and companies. Find out more: https://interactiveworkshops.com/teambooster/

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