Now, more than ever, is the time for organisational transformation. As businesses change so the structure needs to change. However, what should a good change plan include? Everyone knows what a good business plan looks like, but when confronted with the need for a good change plan you might find that opinions will vary depending on one’s position. A finance director might insist on creating new financial measures; an operations director would talk about installing a new quality program; an HR director might focus on revising compensation and training; a marketing director – getting everyone to be more customer focused etc etc….
If left unresolved, this can easily turn a well-intended systemic change into a rag-tag collection of discrete, ad hoc initiatives. More worryingly, it can also prevent the kind of meaningful discussions that keeps a management group pulling together towards their common foal. The CEO of a company facing transformational change must be the driver and facilitator of just this sort of top-level “conversation” – without it, no change program will stay focused, integrated, and in balance.
Listening to the news last week, I was very disappointed to learn about Reading University and how they had spent £36 million on consultants to look to improve the structures and processes that underpin the University’s professional and administrative support activities, with a focus on standardising and improving services, as well as reducing costs. Reducing costs? Really? Apart from Emenex Ltd, there are a number of consulting firms that could have performed this task for a quarter of that, or less!
Upon investigation, it appears that the consultation has been conducted without consulting either the staff or the students. This is one sure way to upset morale! Yes, organisational transformation is important, but this has to be done carefully and with the support of the staff – especially the senior leadership team. Why? Well, without the meaningful discussions, collaboration on the implementation is not going to exist. In fact, this has lead to a vote of no confidence, where Sir David Bell loses in an almost nine in 10 vote against him. The online poll arranged by staff opposed to the major overhaul of professional services, 88 per cent of those who voted – 1,071 in total – said they did not have confidence in Sir David or in planned efficiency measures!
The university says spending on the review and the redundancies will allow it to cut £7.8 million from its budget towards a target of £15 million, and mean it could generate a £10 million surplus from 2020 onwards. However, if the University had looked at alternative consulting organisations in the first place, they could have saved themselves a whole lot more. But more importantly, had they included the staff and students in their discussions – they would be much better off! Staff morale is SO important during times of change – remember to keep them involved!