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Submitted by andersbirch on


[b]Question[/b]: How do I manage through the transition phase, reassuring existing team whilst taking in 2 additional teams?



My Company is reorganizing as part of a downsizing.

As part of the change, I have been promoted to take over additional assignments and employees and managers from 2 additional teams.


My existing team (5 FTE) is fairly new and has been hired in by me only 4 months ago. Strategy and goals have just been finalized and the team is very enthusiastic.

The 2 teams I am taking on (4 + 4 FTE’s) are less enthusiastic about the whole situation. The team leaders will be demoted and the team members are, I expect, skeptic regarding the future. They are, in general, less skilled and experienced compared to my existing team.


Anyone in the MT community who has valuable experience?

How do I maintain momentum, enthusiasm and sense of urgency and motivation among my “old” directs?

How do I manage the “new” directs including demoted managers?

Brgds, Anders

tcomeau's picture
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Wow - been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

First, you have my best wishes. You're in a tough spot, and I suspect you're in a tougher situation than I was when I went through a similar experience.

My experience was slightly different, in that we went through a reorganization just in advance of the layoffs. We eliminated several management positions and consolidated groups, so I went from nine people to 21. Our first task as a new management team, though, was to cut about 20% of the staff, in my case back down to 17. The only good news was that we knew, with that 20% reduction accomplished, we would not have to take further cuts for at least a year. (And as it turns out, we haven't had any more reductions in more than 3 years.)

My first suggestion is to review the older 'casts that deal with layoffs. The "Compassionate Layoffs" 'cast makes some specific suggestions, including stepping up your efforts to over-communicate with your remaining staff, and to stay in contact with the people who were laid off. The only thing I regret about my experience is that I didn't do a better job staying in touch with the people who left the building.

The people who stayed wanted to hear about and from the people who left, to know how they were doing and to maintain contact. One of my peers did a better job of staying in touch, and as a result was able to bring two people back when we started staffing back up again. It was also reassuring to those who stayed that the people who left were able to find new situations: Most found new jobs, a few started businesses, a couple switched paths. (One went back to school and switched careers, another figured out how to retire early.) Do stay in touch with the people who are "gone."

For the people who lost their management role, see if you believe they still show leadership ability, and give them opportunities to lead. Several of the people I've helped develop have bounced back and have new leadership and management roles. Turn them into Manager Tools leaders and give them the chance to be really good in the future.

For all of your expanded staff, apply the trinity with renewed determination. Ask in your O3s how they are doing with the layoffs and reorg, but don't dwell on it: Focus on getting the work done.

I found myself simultaneously trying to relax and inject some urgency at the same time. On the one hand, we really needed to accomplish some difficult work at a difficult time, and the "sense of urgency" 'cast hadn't been released yet. On the other hand, cutting 20% of a staff, including some solid if not stellar performers, creates a lot of anxiety and distraction. I tried to just make sure people knew what they had to accomplish, and then stayed out of their way. I focused on dealing with customers and my boss, to see what goals had changed and where the attention was going. I did more goal-adjusting, and less coaching for a while.

I also, foolishly, tried to "manage up." I spent more than a year trying to get my boss (and his boss) to focus on key quality and cost issues that they were simply ignoring. I was convinced that we were not getting important commitments from partners and internal customers, and that we would get left holding the bag for a bunch of bad decisions. I was right, but it really didn't matter.

The final bit of advice I have is that you not try to manage the old and new people any differently. A few of my peers tried to manage the merged teams as separate sub-teams, and it didn't work well at all. The most successful groups were the ones who tried to get fully integrated, sharing information and goals across the whole group.

So good luck, hang in there, go back to the basics, and let us know how things are going!


andersbirch's picture
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Thanks for sharing your experience.

I'll let you know what I did and how it went :shock: