It may be time to reorganize, but are you ready?

John O'Connor
John O'Connor

By any standard, these are disruptive times for long-term care operators. Virtually every aspect of delivering care, complying with mandates and being reimbursed is undergoing change.

Small wonder so many operators are debating whether it's time to reorganize. For when they work, reorgs are great. They improve performance, unlock new value and improve the bottom line. Unfortunately, they generally don't work, two authors are suggesting.

A new book by Stephen Heidari-Robinson and Suzanne Haywood cites the top reasons for failure, based on a survey of more than 1,800 executives:

•  Employees actively resist the changes

•  Inadequate resources – including people time and money – are put against the effort

•  Productivity suffers as employees become distracted from their usual routines

•  Leaders actively fight the changes

•  Despite organizational chart changes, people keep working as before

•  The reorg causes workers to leave

•  Unexpected developments disrupt implementation

Does that mean your reorg is destined to fail? Hardly. But as they point out in “Reorg, how to get it right,” you will need to develop a process to make the change effective. As they note in their report, “How you go about your reorg is as important as – and sometimes more important than – what you do.”

While helping more than 25 companies execute reorgs, they developed a five-step approach for success. They are:

1.  Develop a profit-and-loss statement. It's essential to define the benefits, costs and delivery time frame.

2.  Understand current weaknesses and strengths. A good place to start is interviews with senior executives. But an electronic survey may allow you to capture a wider range of perspectives.

3.  Consider multiple options. Depending on where things stand, you may want to change the entire organization, or merely target what's broken.

4.  Get the plumbing and wiring right. This is usually the most challenging part of a reorg. It requires that you know all the elements that need to change, and carry out those fixes in the right order.

5.  Launch, learn and course correct. It's the rare plan that works perfectly from the beginning. Problems will almost certainly occur. When they do, openly debate solutions and put fixes in place as quickly as possible.

It can be tempting to trust your gut when making a large-scale change to your organization. It also can be dangerous, the experts point out. Better to put a rigorous process in place if you want more actively involved employees while capturing more value. 

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McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

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