Last week the annual Marketing Week/Ball & Hoolahan salary survey welcomed us all into the New Year with the grim, if unsurprising, news that 53% of marketers expect department ‘restructures’ (aka redundancies and mergers) and budget cuts this year.

The survey cited a number of big companies who have recently restructured “in a bid to improve the efficiency of their operations.”

It made me wonder how many ‘restructured’ companies really become more efficient?  More cost effective, no doubt.  But more efficient?  I’m not so sure…

As we all know,  ‘restructure’ is usually a polite way of saying ‘firing half the team and expecting the rest to pick up the work for no extra pay’.   Cue longer hours, greater stress, more absenteeism and a demotivated workforce (who have little opportunity to leave in a flat market).

The need to restructure presents a much bigger opportunity that is often overlooked in the scramble to cut costs – a chance to strategically refocus the business and then ensure the team is in the right shape to deliver the ‘new future’.

Inevitably, there will be job losses.  But what about those who remain?  Are they in the right roles?  Are there skills gaps to be addressed?  This is a critical exercise that needs to include everyone right up to the Marketing Director.

All too often, a restructure is a ‘bottom up’ cost-cutting exercise – staff and activities are slashed and the new structure is expected to somehow deliver the old strategy.

What’s really needed in this situation is a strategic ‘top down’ review that looks at the whole picture and identifies new opportunities.

As Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  I’d suggest that it’s doing the same thing with less staff and less budget, and expecting a different result, that’s really bonkers.

If you think your organisation could benefit from being more efficient in 2012, and you’d like some expert, objective help with strategy and/or team restructure & training, just get in touch.