Heraclitus wrote, ‘The only constant is change.’[i] This is something that HR professionals and business leaders know only too well.

org chart company

But the changes that have been forced on organisations over the last year could, as the dust settles, be viewed as opportunities to delve into what works and what doesn’t in terms of organisation design (OD). This is an area where HR can really shine in bringing strategic forward-thinking to the table, for the benefit of the workforce and the business’ overall success.

Where should HR start?

A good place to start in terms of OD is to ask different representative groups across the business what they think is working well and what isn’t:

  • What roles are causing bottlenecks?
  • What teams are over-, under-, or well-resourced?
  • What areas are excelling at cross-department collaboration?
  • Where are silos a problem?
  • What can be done to improve customer experience when interacting with the business?
  • Where can potential cost savings be found?

Idea: HR systems with workspaces dedicated to different topic areas can be used to request and discuss feedback to questions that don’t require private consultation.

How can HR get buy-in?

Once HR has a sense of the OD changes that might offer the most benefit, it’s important for the HR team to have good relationships with the business in order to get support and buy in.

Cezanne HR’s recent report: The Psychology of HR Relationship Building: Trust, visibility, and respect provides advice for HR on how to form strong bonds within the organisation. One of the key suggestions that the report makes is that:

‘People connect much more easily with a face than they do with an email address or a phone number. If HR wants to build relationships with the workforce, they need to “put a face to the name” and be recognisable.’

So, at all stages of the OD process, HR needs to make sure their workforce knows who they are, and that they’re not some secret team who hides in the shadows behind generic inboxes.

Idea: Identify who you already have good relationships with in the business, and get their early support for OD projects. They’ll then help you get others onside as time goes on.

How can employees see new org charts?

Once a new structure has been rolled out, it can take time for employees to become familiar with the changes. One of the ways that HR can make this easier is to use sophisticated HR software that displays org charts to employees.

Cezanne HR offers a number of charts so organisation structures can be easily viewed, from person and org charts through to job charts. Cezanne HR customers can choose the format that’s right for them.

Idea: Include pictures in the chart to make it easier for employees to identify each other.

Why is career and succession planning important?

When confronted with organisational change, employees will want to know that their interests and development haven’t been forgotten. Change that improves processes and profitability is all well and good, but people also want to see where these changes can benefit them. How will this shake-up provide them with new opportunities?

Using a career and succession planning module in an HR system like Cezanne HR can help. HR and line managers can look at their OD plans against well organised career and succession charts, identifying who might be ready to step up to a more senior role, and who has skills that could be better utilised. Bringing OD and progression opportunities together is a win/win for the business and its staff.

Idea: Encourage employees to have open conversations with their line managers about their professional aspirations while OD changes are still in the planning phase. This will make it more likely that employee requests can be accommodated as changes are implemented.

For further information on the topics discussed above, please find our reading list below.

Reading list

Information on Organisation Design & Development | CIPD

What is career and succession planning software and what does it do? | Cezanne HR

How COVID defined the next normal operating system | McKinsey

[i] https://www.reference.com/world-view/said-only-thing-constant-change-d50c0532e714e12b



Shandel McAuliffe author image

Shandel McAuliffe

Now based in sunny Australia, Shandel is prolific writer and editor - particularly in the world of HR. She's worked for some big names, including the CIPD and the Adecco Group. And more recently, she's been the Editor for new HR publication HR Leader.