Structure vs Restructure – language counts

There’s a weariness in government about how often it restructures.

Restructures are often pitched as the obvious, future-proof, better way of doing things.  Once we look like that, then we’ll be in optimal form and we can get down to business.

They can and do refresh old work habits and speed up delivery with the right people at the helm. However, it’s no wonder people get disillusioned when the need for structure change comes around again and again.  It’s not just job insecurity and disruption or even lack of resilience. One of the core problems is the false nature of the promise we keep making.

The time of stable structure is long past, if it ever actually existed. Reporting lines and company focus will keep changing. So we need to start talking about it differently.

I’d like to change the language so it’s normal, healthy and desirable. When the world changes around us so relentlessly, we must also change.  We don’t want to barely skid through it, we want to take advantage of it and maybe even drive it.

Let’s chuck out the word ‘restructure’ and start calling it the structure for X (where x is your key driver for change or rationale). X might be a new multi-year strategy or a machinery of government alignment. X might be a change of service delivery model, a new location or the vision of new leadership.

Whatever the reason, it’s not the better way of doing things where everything will be shiny and safe afterward. That only creates a false horizon for people and they’ll aim to get safely past the hurdle rather than making the change work.  

Focus on supporting a strategic move instead of fixing the perceived wrong.

In this environment, you can begin to build a sense of inherent value in your employees. Our insecurity is that we’re merely providing a function that’s popular one day and not the next, so we’re dispensable. Actually, we’re an asset with skills, knowledge and passion and we work for the company. We are not the job. If we know our company values us, beyond what we happen to be doing right now, we’ll be far more confident, invested in making new things work and less disrupted by reporting lines.

Let’s equip people to deliver work in shifting environments and make regular, smaller changes. When we change for a specific purpose and in ways that value employees, we will adapt, survive and thrive.