Organizing or Reorganizing an Organization and Its Employees

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Sections of this topic

    Organizing or Reorganizing an Organization and Its Employees

    Sections of This Topic Include

    Reorganizing Will Be Easier If You Have Been Doing

    Typical Problems that Suggest Need for Reorganizing
    First Guideline for Reorganizing – Review Overall Purpose
    of Organization

    Organizational Change: General Guidelines for Carrying
    it Out

    Specific Suggestions for Reorganizing an Organization
    Reorganizing Staff / Employees
    Additional Perspectives on Organizational Design

    Also consider
    How to
    Design Organizational Structures and Design
    (how to arrange resources in organizations)

    Related Library Topics

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    Reorganizing Will Be Easier if You Have Been Doing …

    You will have a pretty good handle on the need for
    change and what changes must be done if you’ve been
    1. Conducting strategic planning to regularly review the purpose
    of your organization, its overall goals and who should be doing
    what to meet those goals
    2. Using sound principles of employee performance management to
    regularly review what employees should be doing to produce results,
    how they’re doing toward their results, and what must be done
    to help them do a better job of achieving results

    Typical Problems
    That Suggest Need for Reorganizing

    There are a wide variety of reasons for reorganizing
    an organization, particularly in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.
    However, there are several reasons for reorganization that seem
    to keep coming up in small businesses, whether for-profit or nonprofit.
    These reasons include
    1. An employee keeps complaining (and you agree) that he or she
    is overloaded with work.
    2. Employees complain that their activities overlap.
    3. An employee indicates (and you agree) that he or she does not
    have enough work to do during a work day.
    4. Employees complain that they’re reporting to more than one
    boss, or supervisor.
    5. An employee complains that their work includes very different
    tasks. For example, they may have a highly complex and demanding
    project (e.g., leading strategic planning) and a large routine,
    recurring task (sorting a great deal of the organization’s daily
    6. Management notices a large amount of employee turnover, that
    is, employees don’t stay long enough with the organization.
    7. A department, or major function in the organization, has recurring

    NOTE: It is not always problems that provoke the need for reorganizing.
    For example, if the organization has been conducting strategic
    planning and produced new goals, these goals may require the organization
    to reorganize. For example, if the business wants to expand marketshare
    in a certain region, then the organization may need a new office
    in that region, more sales people, etc.

    First Guideline
    for Reorganizing – Revisit Overall Purpose of Business

    Recurring problems often seem to have little to do
    with the business’s overall purpose and goals. However, any attempts
    at reorganizing may be just fine tuning, or tweaking, if not done
    with the long term in mind. In fact, the recurring problems may
    be a symptom of the organization’s not having clearly thought
    out what its overall purpose and goals are. Without visiting the
    overall purpose and goals, redesign is usually a highly reactive
    and very short-term fix. Carefully consider conducting a strategic
    planning process to guide you through reviewing your organization’s
    purpose. See
    Strategic Planning

    How Is Organization-Wide
    Change Best Carried Out?

    Successful change must involve top management, including
    the board and chief executive. Usually there’s a champion who
    initially instigates the change by being visionary, persuasive
    and consistent. A change agent role is usually responsible to
    translate the vision to a realistic plan and carry out the plan.
    Change is usually best carried out as a team-wide effort. Communications
    about the change should be frequent and with all organization
    members. To sustain change, the structures of the organization
    itself should be modified, including strategic plans, policies
    and procedures. This change in the structures of the organization
    typically involves an unfreezing, change and re-freezing process.

    The best approaches to address resistances is through increased
    and sustained communications and education. For example, the leader
    should meet with all managers and staff to explain reasons for
    the change, how it generally will be carried out and where others
    can go for additional information. A plan should be developed
    and communicated. Plans do change. That’s fine, but communicate
    that the plan has changed and why. Forums should be held for organization
    members to express their ideas for the plan. They should be able
    to express their concerns and frustrations as well. For additional
    information, see the topic Guidelines, Methods and Resources for Organizational Change Agents.

    Specific Suggestions

    In addition to the above general guidelines, there
    are a few basic guidelines to keep in mind.
    1. Consider using a consultant. Ensure the consultant is highly
    experienced in organization-wide change. Ask to see references
    and check the references.
    2. Widely communicate the potential need for change. Communicate
    what you’re doing about it. Communicate what was done and how
    it worked out.
    3. Get as much feedback as practical from employees, including
    what they think are the problems and what should be done to resolve
    them. If possible, work with a team of employees to manage the
    4. Don’t get wrapped up in doing change for the sake of change.
    Know why you’re making the change. What goal(s) do you hope to
    6. Plan the change. How do you plan to reach the goals, what will
    you need to reach the goals, how long might it take and how will
    you know when you’ve reached your goals or not? Focus on the coordination
    of the departments/programs in your organization, not on each
    part by itself. Have someone in charge of the plan.
    7. End up having every employee ultimately reporting to one person,
    if possible, and they should know who that person is. Job descriptions
    are often complained about, but they are useful in specifying
    who reports to whom.
    8. Delegate decisions to employees as much as possible. This includes
    granting them the authority and responsibility to get the job
    done. As much as possible, let them decide how to do the project.
    9. The process won’t be an “aha!” It will take longer
    than you think.
    10. Keep perspective. Keep focused on meeting the needs of your
    customer or clients.
    11. Take care of yourself first. Organization-wide change can
    be highly stressful.
    12. Don’t seek to control change, but rather to expect it, understand
    it and manage it.
    13. Include closure in the plan. Acknowledge and celebrate your
    14. Read some resources about organizational change, including new forms and structures.

    Reorganizing Staff / Employees

    (If you have already done some basic business planning and drafted a basic business
    plan, then you probably already have the answers to all or many of the following

    Lewis, Lewis and Souflee, in Management of Human Service Organizations
    (Books/Cole, 1991, p. 80) list several key questions developing an organizational
    design. These questions apply, whether for-profit or nonprofit organization.
    (Items in brackets “[!]” were added by Carter McNamara.)

    1. What are the primary goals and objectives that the organization should be
    designed to meet? (The topic strategic
    can help you determine what these goals are.)

    2. What continuing activities need to be performed in order to implement the
    strategies that have been selected as part of the planning process? (The topic
    can help you determine the answer to this question, too.)

    3. How can the necessary activities to be divided so that individuals or groups
    can be assigned responsibility for performing them [that is, organized into
    separate roles and jobs!]? [Activities should be grouped into related and similar
    activities as much as possible so that individuals are working on tasks that
    are related and similar.!]?
    How to Know
    What Positions and Jobs Are Needed (Workforce Planning)

    How to
    Design a New Job — a New Position or Role

    4. Once activities have been grouped into specific jobs, what kind of authority
    and responsibility should be assigned? (You might take a look at Basic
    Terms in Management

    5. How and by whom should decisions be made? [Attempt to always and ultimately
    have one person who is singularly responsible for decisions!]. (You might take
    a look at the topic Making

    6. How specialized should roles be? (The following links can help you answer
    this question.)
    How to Know
    What Positions and Jobs Are Needed (Workforce Planning)

    How to
    Design a New Job — a New Position or Role

    7. Who should control the work being performed? (See the topic Management
    . )

    8. How can communication and coordination among members of the organization
    be facilitated? (Se the topic Management

    9. How can job and role descriptions be developed to take into account both
    functions and accountabilities?
    How to Know
    What Positions and Jobs Are Needed (Workforce Planning)

    How to
    Design a New Job — a New Position or Role

    10. How can coordination and communication with the external social environment
    be facilitated? (See the topic Management
    . )


    11. Strive to have every employee ultimately reporting to one person, if possible,
    and they should know who that person is. Job descriptions are often complained
    about, but they are useful in specifying who reports to whom.

    12. Carefully consider the span of control, that is, how many people are reporting
    to whom. Can each manager really supervise that many people in an effective

    13. When done designing the group, always build structure into the new design
    through the use of organizational charts, job descriptions, policies and procedures
    that document the design and who is doing what in it.

    Additional Perspectives on Organizational Design

    Organizational Design
    — Guidelines

    Return to Staffing
    for the next step in the staffing process.

    For the Category of Management:

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