WORKSHOP: Personal trainer

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of the chief executives' body ACEVO

Q: A number of senior managers are leaving at the same time. This may be a good time for a management re-organisation. What are the rules?

A: An 18th century military strategist once said, "If it is necessary to change, then change. If it is unnecessary, then there is no necessity." The first rule is common sense. Management re-organisation for its own sake might not help the organisation. You first need to be sure of the outcomes and goals of such a reorganisation.

Take a step back and consider where the organisation has got to and where it needs to go. Look at future trends, analyse the risks and the potential opportunities.

Organisations evolve and change. It is highly likely that particular structures will suit organisations at different stages in their evolution.

You might need a certain structure in a start-up, a different structure when facing a crisis and a very different one for growth. The temptation is to leave a particular structure in place simply because of personalities or the perceived difficulties of change. This would be wrong. The objectives of the organisation need always to be put before individual likes and dislikes.

So there is no harm in using the opportunity afforded by the departure of senior managers to review your structure and see if it is meeting the challenges of your business. Once you have worked out the goals of any re-organisation, it is worth discussing these with senior staff both to secure their views, and, if possible, to get their support.

You may also want to discuss this with the chair of trustees. However, matters of management re-organisation are the prerogative of the chief executive who should take the final decision. While it would be wise to consult the chair, it is not a decision for the board of trustees. Chief executives have to have the management board that they need, not one that fits preconceived notions of non-executive trustees.

Then you may need staff consultation. Once you have made a decision on the likely direction, it is worth discussing the goals and shape with staff. Some of them may be affected by particular management changes and so managers would want to talk to those individuals. There is often a good case for a staff-wide consultation.

Finally, do not be scared of the HR implications of a sensible or radical re-organisation. There may well be some difficult discussions ahead, but if you are convinced the organisation needs a different structure to ensure more effective delivery, then go for it.

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