Category: Career

Transformation by Design: Employees at the Epicenter of Corporate Restructuring

When business leaders decide to restructure or reorganize, they are transforming the company and, therefore, must carefully consider the design of such a change. Like an architect who takes months or years to thoughtfully design a building, a company must intricately and carefully plan for change. As they do so, they need to keep in mind the most critical component of an organizational redesign are the employees, whose performance can make or break a company.

Whether a start up or legacy corporation, the primary driver behind reorganization is usually profitable growth. Of course, such plans may also result from a desire for improvements in customer service performance or production quotas. But, most importantly, and often with little consideration, it’s how the restructuring will impact the people that matters most, which is why the emphasis on concise planning and thoughtful design is so important.

Many senior managers simply focus on the what, the desired end goal of organizational change: Improved financial performance as a result of restructuring and resizing. They often ignore the human factor in such a modification. Instead, it’s the innovators who bolster the objectives by carefully composing how employees will proactively participate in reorganization and impact the bottom line, and how they will interact for the good of the firm after the change has been implemented.

Throughout my career, I’ve both been directly involved with and witnessed organizational change. In one instance, as a lodging company prepared to go public in the early 1990’s, leadership made the strategic decision to streamline operations and eliminate the Assistant Manager position, thereby empowering non-exempt employees with such tasks as resolving customer disputes and making bank deposits. Imagine an hourly employee deciding to refund a dissatisfied guest! But, it worked. The hourly workforce was invigorated, and property managers now had home office support for what were then unconventional solutions.

On another occasion, I observed a division of a Fortune 500 company as it implemented a mass reorganization. In this instance, employees felt under informed and many worried about job security. As the implementation began, a good number were in limbo for months, “officially displaced” as managers competed for their skills and loyalty. It was evident that minimal consideration had been put into the human aspects of the organizational redesign and delivery.

A revolutionary example where people are at the center of transformational change is the recent decision by Zappos to embrace Holacracy, which, according to Forbes magazine, is “a New Age approach to leadership that involves no job titles, no formal bosses, and lots of overlapping work circles instead.” Certainly, Holacracy is not the Holy Grail, and all eyes will be on Zappos to see how it fares with this new model. However, one advantage Holacracy has is that its organizational premise is people-centered and focused on providing clarity around aligning resources and accomplishing tasks.

Human resources matter most when a company decides to restructure. A well-considered design with employees at the forefront will result in an operational transformation that benefits the organization, its employees, and its customers, thereby improving financial performance.

Scott Wise, founder and CEO of Scotty’s Brewhouse restaurants, professes that his employees are the key to his success. They are more important than customers. He states, “If your employees believe in your dreams and values then ultimately they will make your guests happy, too.”


My Five Know’s of Air Travel

20130223-084608.jpgWe all know the don’ts of air travel: Don’t turn on your phone after the doors are closed or before landing, don’t carry on more than two items, and, by God, don’t dare think of boarding before your turn.

So, instead I present five of my do’s.

Charge! I have become extremely dependent upon my smartphone for just about everything (boarding pass, watch, book, magazine, messenger, planner, theater, and phone) that I take advantage of every opportunity to keep it juiced up. Many airports now have convenient charging stations and we no longer have to look silly sitting on the carpet by some isolated outlet. But such amenities are few and far between (i.e., a privilege and not yet a convenience). And, unless you’re sitting in first class on certain planes or on an overseas flight, charging above 10,000 feet is not an option.

Stand, Stretch, Walk Move! Instead of sitting at the gate, waiting impatiently and listening to annoying announcements, get up and wander around. Peruse the overpriced souvenirs. Blocking fellow travelers rushing to their gates can be fun, too! There’ll be time enough for lounging around later. 

Elevate If you must sit and wait at the gate, then throw your feet up on your suitcase like I do.  Yes, it may seem gauche to some, but who cares? Your legs and feet will thank you later. Socks or no socks, that’s up to you (socks for me). But, ladies, do take extra caution when wearing a skirt or dress.

Alleviate Popping a few pills before your flight may be just as important as staying hydrated. Two regular old aspirin to prevent DVT. I know personally of frequent fliers hospitalized because of it and that’s proof enough for me. Though, remember, I am not a medical doctor so best to consult one when in doubt.

Learn and Obey Get over it and learn to tolerate the Transportation Security Administration. They are here to stay. The TSA website is chockfull of useful information; everyone who flies commercially should review this at least once. They even have an app (gasp!). And, the TSA actually has a formal complaint process if you feel you have been treated unfairly…I highly recommended using this over making a scene at the airport. Really. Bottom line: THERE IS NO EXCUSE NOT TO BE PREPARED. And, you are dumb if you get into trouble for making snide remarks out loud.

Yes, no doubt, air travel has moved on from the days of glitz and glamour to comfort and efficiency.  What travel tips or quirks do you have to share to make it a bit more tolerable?

Everything’s Amazing

Today, I resurrect my life as a road warrior.

It’s Monday for many of us, so I thought I would add a bit of levity to begin the day: Louis C.K.’s rant about how we whine about everything amazing. Enjoy it during a smoke social break. I’ll still be laughing to myself as I sit on my chair in the sky.

(Be aware that Mr. Szekley is not known for family-friendly language.)

Real People

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
-Robert Frost


Taking a big step can be scary.

I begin a new job tomorrow. Off on an (very) early morning flight to the big city. I cannot wait!

Leaving something you know, something you enjoy is hard. People wonder why you want to change. But these people understand. They know me. They matter.