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Manager Toolkit - Reorganization Guidelines

For any number of reasons (to address organizational performance gaps, to address financial concerns, to find opportunities for improvement), departmental leaders may need to review their operations and consider reorganization.  Generally, the reorganization process will be utilized when a department or unit proposes significant changes to job duties, work flow, positions, etc. that impact the department or unit as a whole.

The following guidelines are intended to provide instructions for ensuring as smooth a transition as possible when undertaking reorganization.

I.          Contact Human Resources (581-1581)

Before you begin the planning and tactical process related to reorganization, ensure that you include Human Resources (HR) in your planning at the very earliest stages. HR is your partner in achieving your organizational and operational goals, and regardless of whether or not this is your first time initiating or managing an organizational restructuring effort, it is critical to involve HR as you begin the basic steps to improving operations through reorganization. Resource experts across HR can assist with planning for staffing changes that involve redefining positions, downsizing, or expanding areas of expertise.

II.          Engage Stakeholders

Work with your department or unit’s HR Officer as soon as you believe you wish to move forward with a reorganization.

If you are not already working with your leadership, advise them that you are beginning to plan operational changes. Leadership involved should certainly include the area’s VP, but also ensure that the President and/or Provost are informed and approve as well.

If any of your staffing initiatives will have financial impact, involve your department or unit’s Financial Manager immediately.

Plan how to communicate about the reorganization effort at its initiation and throughout each step.

III.          Develop an Implementation Plan

A successful implementation relies on clear governance of the change process. Your plan might include, for example:

  • Clarifying who has the decision making authority over aspects of the reorganization plan and who will be the departmental contact with HR.
  • Making the announcement to the department or unit and larger community.  Also to be considered is whether the process will be confidential or how much information about the reorganization will be shared with the department or unit at any given time.
  • Updating description of the mission, vision, and goals of the department or unit. Ensure that these are in alignment with those of the larger organization and institution.
  • Timeframe for reorganization and implementation plan for changing business processes, organizational roles and the organizational structure if needed.
  • Before and after flow charts to help clarify the transition of business processes.
  • Retrieving old and drafting new organizational charts.
  • Gathering old and new job descriptions for all affected positions.
  • Gathering old and new position description questionnaires (PDQs) for any affected positions.
  • Gathering resumes of employees in all affected positions.
  • Planning for filling positions in the new structure or planning for layoffs/diminishment/reassigning work functions.

Step III is the perfect time for an in-person meeting with the department or unit leadership, HR, and Equal Opportunity. Using the ideas listed above, the reorganization plan should be formatted into a narrative rationale with specific justifications for any employment changes and/or changes in position focus.  The narrative rationale should include a justification for the reorganization including but not limited to: financial, programmatic, increased efficiency, realigning competencies, and institutional goals.  Thinking about anticipated impact and developing a plan for working with affected employees is helpful during this stage. At this point, HR will begin working with the Office of Equal Opportunity, the applicable unions, and the University of Maine System office as necessary to share information, vision, and rationale and to assist the department or unit with a smooth transition.

IV.          Take Advantage of Resources in the Planning Stage

There are numerous resources available to help with planning changes to business processes and the organizational structures that support them. For example, HR can assist with planning for staffing changes that involve redefining positions, downsizing, or expanding areas of expertise:

  • Plan changes in position assignments, methods of filling new positions in the new structure, and the sequencing of actions.
  • Bring in other resources as needed such as Labor Relations, Organizational Development, Benefits, and EAP.
  • Consider classification options and salary prior to selecting or finalizing specific job descriptions and salary, which will help expedite the classification process for the restructured organization.
  • Understand position management, how work flow captures the nature and level of work required within the department or unit, how restructuring work impacts classification levels, and how to align job duties with competencies.

V.          Prepare for Staffing Changes

HR can assist a department or unit in compiling the following information:

A spreadsheet with the names of everyone in the current organization and their:

  • Job title
  • Supervisor
  • Hire date
  • Bargaining unit
  • Current and proposed salary (please note, however, to refrain from discussing salary changes with employees until HR has scored the PDQ and determined what salary band employees will fall within).
  • How employees are affected by the structural changes, e.g., job reduced; possible reclassification, layoff, etc.

A spreadsheet for all new positions in the new structure with:

  • Job title
  • Supervisor
  • FTE
  • Bargaining unit
  • Proposed salary

A timeline (update as needed) with dates for:

  • Communicating with managers, supervisors, and staff at critical points during the restructuring.
  • Collaborating with affected employees (staff and their supervisor/manager) with respect to intended changes and potentially soliciting feedback about the shift in departmental direction and new job descriptions.
  • Meeting with those affected (multiple meetings with supervisors/managers and staff may be needed; consultation with those who have been through a restructuring process can be helpful).
  • Progress reports on updates to the department or unit.
  • Initiating discontinuance or reduction activity if needed, including detailed transition plans for each affected employee.
  • Planning to search new positions.
  • Training existing and new staff.
  • Identifying length of the transition period for each function.
  • Planning discussions to clarify changes in position and performance expectations.

HR will continue to update EO and the System office with required information.

VI.          Plan communications to external customers and stakeholders to announce the reorganization and new staffing.

VII.          Encourage those in new supervisory roles to develop their skills through offerings from Organizational Development.

Remember that change takes time; this is a period when you will need to use campus resources to support your efforts.


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