A corporate restructure can be a difficult period for organisational staff. Typically, these kind of change programmes have a number of deliverables but one key underpinning goal – to rightsize the business to deliver more effectively on its strategy and to free up investment by cutting the cost base to create a leaner, more effective and better positioned organisation.
The primary concern for staff in a restructure of course, is that they will lose their roles. And those remaining staff will experience their own challenges as they see old ways of working, old colleagues and old norms disappearing before their eyes. Organisational psychologists have found that these ‘redundancy survivors’ will experience a feeling of grief akin to a bereavement – meaning that managers have significant challenges to overcome during the restructure period; both in terms of managing outgoing staff and in motivating remaining staff.
So what concrete steps can be taken to keep the finance team motivated during a period of organisational change?
1. Focus on communication
The success of any large change programme lies heavily on the effectiveness of its internal communication programme. The best laid plans, the most perfectly conceived strategy, the exciting new investments and business direction… all will be lost if your staff do not know what is happening, or understand how the changes relate to them. Remember, human instinct asks immediately ‘what’s in it for me’, so finance managers need to be ready to answer difficult questions in an open, honest and supportive way – rather than dancing around obvious issues and resorting to platitudes and vague updates. The support of the HR department and any internal communications or change management team is key here – find out what channels are in place for feeding questions and answers up and down the chain, get key messages to share, establish the regular programme of communications from the corporate centre and get training where possible to deliver them effectively to your staff. The more effectively, regularly and whole-heartedly you can communicate with your team, the more motivated they will remain – and they will appreciate your efforts too.
2. Use contractors to support your in-house team
Interim accountancy contractors can help businesses to undergo their change programmes – providing vital specialist skills that enable the value propositions (particularly cash focused based) of the change to be achieved. These contractors bring expertise in diverse specialist areas, such as due diligence, disposal, systems changeovers and implementations and so forth. The challenge of bringing in contractors during a restructure is showing that they are there to help the change – rather than to force existing staff out. Motivate your team by giving them roles to share their own knowledge, experience and insights with your new contractors. Position your internal staff with respect and praise them appropriately and openly, demonstrating their value and integral role within the team. This will then help to position the contractors as additional help for your key players during the change period – rather than the ‘heroes’ who have come to save the day from a poorly performing in-house team!
3. Encourage speed of delivery with contractors
Contractors do tend to work very quickly which is a key benefit for harried managers working through a restructure. The finance team is likely to be all the busier in this period, so again, use your power of positioning to show how the new contractors are there to help your existing staff and to prevent them from becoming overwhelmed. This is essential to show that the additional contractor resource hasn’t been brought in to compensate for poor in-house performance – but to offer support and additional help at a busy time, and so that your permanent staff can focus on delivering quality outcomes for your customers.
4. Be available, be accountable
A good manager will recognise that a restructure period is challenging and unsettling and will always be available. This doesn’t mean stopping delivery at the drop of a hat, but it does mean having a process in place for regular catch-ups, structured meetings, morning huddles and 1-2-1s so that your team can speak to you when they need to. Equally, find out what support is available from HR. When your staff have queries or concerns, make sure you follow through and get them an answer. If they are feeling vulnerable, reassure them, keep them busy and find training or development opportunities to provide a new focus beyond the immediate changes. Recruiting early champions of the new culture is a good way to bring demotivated staff back on board and focusing on the positive new environment ahead.
5. Recognise achievement
Make sure you openly recognise and celebrate good work, achievement and the right attitude during the transition. Allow a little leeway for staff who may be demotivated, but keep everyone’s spirits as high as possible by focusing on the positive and praise from customers. A strongly delivering team will have real respect from the business as the restructure progresses – and the finance team will be integral to its success.
6. Have some fun
The stress of a restructure takes its toll, and even the most motivated staff can feel a little run down at times. So engage with your team and suggest something fun. Keep away from alcohol – focus on an active night out, or a lunch trip. Maybe go bowling, for a lunch, off-site for an outdoor team building activity… even for a lunchtime run! Sometimes the physical act of getting away from an office and enjoying a break can be wholly transformative and restore the energy and commitment of your high-performing team.
At BTG Recruitment we specialise in accountancy and finance recruitment. We work solely with employers like you who are looking to secure high-calibre candidates for interim, fixed or long-term roles. To see how we could help your company’s finance team attract bright, effective individuals, get in touch today.
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