Leaders leading change

Article 25 June 2024

Restructuring teams, whether as part of a whole-organisation integration or as a discrete functional integration, can be tough. Whilst there may be clear business reasons and a sound organisational imperative for the change, there will often also be human psychological implications that will need attention.

For many affected by the change, there can be a lack of clarity, especially in the early moments of the process; there can be confusion over roles and responsibilities, even worries about the potential for career development (or long-term job security); and there can be challenges through different ways of working and different leadership styles.

We have significant experience supporting clients who, in order to drive achievement of strategic aims and organisational effectiveness, have needed to restructure and integrate previously disparate teams. These are our six key learnings any leader leading through integration should know:


In almost all examples of good integrative and collaborative working, often the existence of a ‘One team’ mindset was a critical enabler – a sense of ‘we’re all working towards the same goals, we want the same thing for the client’ and ‘this is our client, not my client’. This cannot happen without an investment in building stronger and deeper connections between team members. 


The teams themselves often have the best ideas about working practices and how to integrate – and people also tend to respond more positively if their agency is recognised and they feel that they are being heard and their ideas considered.


There is an ongoing need for consistent and frequent communications that: reinforces and reminds the team of the rationale for the change; acknowledges that people will be feeling confused and offering support; provides as much clarity as possible on decisions as they are made; and shares success stories of positive integration examples.


A team that has a reason to work together will collaborate and integrate more quickly than a group that continues to work in silos. So the creation of cross-team ‘working groups’ to jointly develop solutions is a critical ‘integrating mechanism’.


Senior leaders need to be visible in their support and promotion of the value of the integrated approach. They need to make sure they communicate regularly and reinforce key messages. Ultimately if the Leadership Team isn’t clear on this value-add, the integrating unit needs to work with that stakeholder and lobby for support. Be explicit about what you need.


It can be tempting to reorganise the team structure before all the work is done to understand responsibilities, processes and any overlaps. It is far better to wait until the deeper analytical work is complete and teams have had a chance to offer their own thinking on possible structure.

The Sheppard Moscow approach to bringing teams together

Integration workshops form the basis of our approach, where we bring leaders together from the different functions to identify the ‘integrating mechanisms’ that would need collective leadership from the group.

These workshops feed the need for connection – often leaders in this situation haven’t met each other; it enables Senior Sponsors to play a ‘sense-making’ role for this team, anchoring the rationale for the integration; and it helps not only to answer questions, but find solutions – teams can have conversations about how they can organise themselves for optimal impact and better serve the business going forward.

Sounds simple enough, but the process to getting there involves building a safe environment, sharing accountability and together putting into action plans, then shaping, reshaping and embedding and integrating. 

For this to work here are five steps we take to help leadership teams:

#1 Scoping and building psychological safety 
#2 Joint diagnosis; planning for accountability
#3 Putting joint plans into action - sharing success
#4 Reshaping and adapting
#5 Embedding and integration

We'll be explaining more about this approach in our next blog..stay tuned!


If you're interested in more about successful change, please take a look at these:

The fundamentals of enabling human change

Organisational change for Bayer

Sheppard_Moscow_Headshots_189.jpg Deborah Gray