How To Lovingly Restructure Staff During COVID-19
By Holly Tate
Many organizations are facing the challenge of restructuring due to the devastating impacts of COVID-19. To address this reality, interviewed Sutton Turner, our Chief Operating Officer, on ways to lovingly approach restructuring and reorganizing staff during COVID-19. Sutton shared the following tangible strategies and tools to begin the process of restructuring staff.
1. Outline Your Two Determining Factors
- Determine how many resources needs to be reduced. Use the total amount of expenses based on revenue projections to determine these reductions.
- Focus on the purpose of your organization. Examine and outline the purpose of your Christian organization. It should be the overall main element driving your organizational decisions.
2. Restructuring Staff Setup
It’s very helpful to chart out your current organization when you’re beginning the process of restructuring to make certain you aren’t leaving anything out. With the key leaders of your team, create a complete overview of your staff starting with the purpose of your organization at the top of the chart as a constant reminder of what matters most. This will determine how you walk through identifying and reducing programs and ministries.
3. Start the Restructuring Process of Your Staff
- Go through a series of priorities. This is where you need to examine the must-haves, should-haves, and nice-to-haves of your organization. Every organization is different and this a good time to have your key leaders speak into what belongs in these categories.
- Examine every program and ministry. Take time to list out every important program, ministry, and event that your organization has. This will determine where you’re going to start in reducing your expenses. Your most important programs and ministries should tie back to the purpose of your organization.
- Stewardship. Be mindful of the people God has entrusted you with on your staff. As you begin to restructure your staff, taking things one position at a time helps to depersonalize the decisions you’re having to make.
- Consider the talents of those in your company. This when you should take your roster of staff members and name who is the best person to be apart of a specific ministry at that time.
- Evaluate if you have a person that’s currently in an area that isn’t a must-have, but they are very valuable to your organization. Consider transferring them to a must-have part of your organization. Think of people who are agile and maintain a go-to, teachable attitude.
- This will require you to get creative with your organizational chart as you examine the characteristics, traits, and talents of those on your team.
- Compute your new payroll costs. After reducing programs and ministries and developing your new organizational chart you can get an idea of your new payroll costs.
- Compare your revenue and expenses. This will determine if you need to make even more reductions in your payroll costs and programs.
- Explore other ways to reduce payroll costs.
- Your highly-compensated staff members may need to take a temporary pay cut. Only consider doing this for your highly-compensated staff because of the payroll threshold on your team. Also, make certain these temporary payroll reductions don’t become permanent cuts. It’s better to reduce programs and ministries than make permanent cuts to your highly compensated staff.
- Communicate that you’re taking a pay cut as well. Be transparent with your leaders and staff to ensure them you’re in the same boat as them. This honesty builds trust and respect as you show your servant leadership.
- Restore your staff member’s salary. Make sure when you’re on the other side of this, that your revenue is coming back to the prior levels. It’s vital for you to restore salary levels before bringing back furloughed employees or beginning to hire new employees.
- Be mindful of your remaining staff. Once you’ve reorganized and restructured your staff, you will have fewer staff members, and the most highly paid staff members are going to possibly have a reduction in pay. Be careful not to increase their workload too much or add new projects to their plate. Check in with staff frequently to ensure they’re feeling comfortable and appreciated.
4. Have The Tough Conversation
- Share a narrative of hope and unity. Use this as a time to lead your team with a positive attitude and communicate a narrative of hope and unity by letting them know that everyone will get through this together. Continue this conversation through the crisis and even as we start to regather.
- Communicate with honesty and compassion. Acknowledging how difficult this situation is will help you speak to the underlying sense of anxiety your team may be experiencing. Affirming their fears and struggles helps you relate to your staff.
- Be transparent. Be intentional about communicating in a way that helps your staff understand what’s happening and why. Share data that will help them understand why restructuring is happening and what the future projections are.
- Allow your team to ask questions. It’s normal for people to have concerns and questions, so take time to ensure there is opportunity for conversations. Leaders should be prepared and comfortable with explaining why restructuring is happening within the organization.
- Acknowledge the loss that your remaining team may feel. It’s scary and hard to lose relationships and co-workers on top of the other impacts of the global crisis. Be ready to walk alongside your team by providing support, care, and love to them.
It is always difficult for leaders to reorganize and restructure their staff especially in the middle of a global crisis. It leads to hard conversations and big changes in priorities. We are praying for all leaders who have to implement major changes for their organization in this tough season during COVID-19.
Sutton Turner is the chief operating officer of Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices, and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally.