Is it time to restructure your business?

The Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management is currently taking place in Orlando, Florida, and has brought together some of the business world’s most innovative thinkers.

During a presentation, Zhang Ruimin, chief executive officer of Haier, said that the key to having a successful business in 2013 is being ready and willing to shake things up.

Mr Ruimin encouraged business owners everywhere to rethink the structure of their organisation, and make changes if they are deemed necessary.

He also said that you should consider where you stand with “key stakeholders” and consider revising your relationship with them if need be.

“No company is successful because they are inherently better than their peers,” said Mr Ruimin.

“True business leaders are successful because they adapt more quickly to changing market trends and remain successful only if they deliberately structure themselves to be nimble and unconventional even as they grow bigger”.

He added that his company has majorly altered the way it conducts business over the past few years.

For instance, they’ve done away with the “internal borders” that once kept the different units of the business apart and have opted for a more open-plan office – both physically and mentally.

In addition to this, the business has taken steps to eliminate any sort of management hierarchy – making its employees feel like equals.

‘Restructuring’ doesn’t have to be a dirty word

When you go about restructuring your business, tread cautiously. Just hearing the word “restructure” may conjure up images of a daunting task that will place new demands and stress on employees. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Something as small as semantics can change how employees view a move to restructure. Instead of restructuring “roles” within a company, it may be better to think about restructuring “activities” and the flow of work. If a business undertakes a new initiative, it could be beneficial to subdivide some of the parts this activity and assign employees accordingly.

This building block approach will not only make the restructuring easier, it could even enrich employees jobs and sense of responsibility. By including all workers in business strategic planning – and helping them understand that their input will help form a better end result – employees will feel more engaged in the entire process and company as a whole.

Put simply, this method will make the restructuring the culmination of employee feedback and desires, rather than a steadfast end goal workers will have to bend over backwards to reach.

Maintain focus

There is no point in taking your business in a new or more specialised direction if it’s not the right one. It pays to think long and hard about where the best opportunities for growth truly lie, and opt to structure your business accordingly.

In a recent interview with Business Review Weekly, Simon Mair – who is the chief executive officer of Australian Industrial Rental – said that after evaluating his business’s strengths and weaknesses, he realised that they needed to focus all of their energy on creating a stronger foothold in regional markets.

Having made this important decision, Mr Mair put together a business plan and presented it to the company’s funders, who eventually agreed it was the best way forward.

When restructuring, less is more

Above all, don’t try to overcomplicate the restructuring process. Keeping it simple when make it easy for employees to get on board with the initiative, and the outcomes will be far better than if it sounds like an order coming from management.

Restructuring should always be driven from within rather than top-down, because once you try to push it down, the pressure will only build, and it could become a much more difficult endeavour than it needs to be.