I thought I would be good at this placement - brought in from the outside as a new manager to a large group of tech/science people that have large history together but have gotten stuck in a rut and corporate has noticed.  No problem, I mesh well, I am a people person, I will meet and get to know everyone and learn their process before I decide if change is needed and where would it be needed..........and I am enjoying every bit of it even though I know the struggle will be uphill - it's challenging but in a great way. 

Enter the request for a new org chart from "above"

I knew this quick change attitude was there when I interviewed - they wanted a Change Agent.  Now I need to deliver but I am an MT addict and this goes against the grain!

History of this group:   Because of a flip-flop of buyouts etc that have happened over the past years, they don't feel part of anywhere.  The morale is low to say the least and the work quality isn't there.  They communicate via email for everything (even those people that share an office!!!).  They have segregated themselves into groups within the group with an "us vs them" attitude even though they are in the same company!

  And then there's the huge HUGE pressure to reorg in the next month, pressure from by corporate boss.  He's a great guy, really, and he has his own ideas of how the reorg should look but he is very careful not to tell me so as not to bias me (that's a good thing, right?)  AND I know, let him do it, let him reorg!  Why bring me into to do his dirty work (I know, I read that post too - what is the agenda?!).   still.........

This seasoned group does not want to change - their "we've always done it this way" attitude is sinking their ship and they don't see it, and they have unprofessional people who yell at subordinates - not acceptable at any time. They have become really good at functioning in information silos (1 person silos at that!), they have people that don't play well with others and so they tend to rule by concensus and self-management  when they do have meetings - seemingly a group cut off by a leader - they say so themselves.  

And I am left with a reorg........I know it isn't working - the consistency, the professionalism, the lack in a system and process.........I know the MT rules/suggestions.......but if anyone has a little light of thoughts that could be impactful, I am listening.  And I know there has to be someone else out there that is going throught the same thing!  I really want to help this group and I know there are some bad sometimes I think the answer is easy. help

pdcb's picture

So an update (I tried to answer my own question, but I am still open to comments!) - I asked my VP "why" - Why didn't he make these changes to the team himself and why did he wait until I got here to say that the changes needed to be made and made by me..........

He said that it was important for the person coming into the group (that would be managing the group) to understand them and make an independent decision and make the changes themselves - the group needed to know that this(I) am here as their leader.  Having the change made and then bringing someone in to manage that change would not have worked.  I don;t think that's a bad answer.......but I am open.

That being said, I did disagree with him when it came to a couple of people he thought should go.  I say some just need to be managed better - the information is there, the technical talent is there, but that person needs to be helped in regard to people skills and how to handle direct reports and disseminating information.  The attitude is big and blunt and not condusive to having a functioning group.

I will keep my fingers crossed but still look for any words of wisdom!



flexiblefine's picture

"He said that it was important for the person coming into the group [that's you] to understand them and make an independent decision and make the changes themselves."

Yes, you feel pressure from above to reorganize this group, but you just got there -- you don't know them and understand them as well as you want to in order to make those changes. I don't know your relationship with the VP, but it sounds like he's trying to choose doing it quickly over doing it right.

Can you push back a little and discuss taking more time so you can do what he says he wants -- understand the group?

Meanwhile, it looks like you have a separate challenge of helping the group understand what it's doing and how its actions are perceived from the outside. You've been told to reorganize, and the group's learning experience will help you see who wants to be more effective and who doesn't care anymore.

Houston, Texas, USA
DiSC: 1476

mmann's picture

If the relationship with the VP is strong enough to push back as FlexibleFine suggests, then by all means, do it. 

In my opinion, your lack of a cooperative team is a much greater barrier to success.  Reorganizing now seems a bit like changing the foundation while the house is burning.  While you continue trying to "fit in," try defining and using a specific name for your team to help establish an identity.  Develop certain phrases and [tasteful] jokes that you only use when meeting as a team.  These will strengthen the feeling of a team.

If you're not willing to push back, or the VP makes the final decision to proceed with the re-org, remember to murder the unchosen alternative.  The re-org will become the best solution and you'll be able to use it to create interdependent goals that can only be accomplished by a group of team players!

  Good luck,


pdcb's picture

So I have pushed back....

and my conclusion has suprised even me.  I realize that the manager I am replacing (as she moves laterally but not out of the department) should really be the one that should go. Assessing the directs and skips and trying to assess who stays and who goes from this group lead me to understanding why my directs (and theirs) were disengaged, under motivated, under utilized and why maybe they looked like an easy beacon to my boss (remember he was the one pushing to reorg/dismiss people at the lower levels).  If we do not lead by example, we cannot fault the people following the leader! 

and I must admit MMAN, your comment about the "foundation" really got me thinking on that! so thanks!

I have  re-assessed  and over and I kept coming to the same answer, but again, I look for the wisdom on MT. 

I passed this observation/suggestion to my VP, as he tasked me with this job and he said he will seriously think about this.......... I know it was risky and pretty blunt, but this group has an under performing leader who doesn't care.....and like I said, my decision was clear..........

So as I wait for the decision, I think about how can I manage this change.  How do I ensure the "happiness of the group", how do I get them from this change which will be sudden and swift to move toward high performing...... I firmly believe that changing the top is the only way to percuolate the changes we desperately need to make.  But now on the eve of a great change, I need to find a method..........I know if this decision is made, it will be swift, like a bandaid.


mmann's picture

Good work!

Now you need to help your boss arrive at that decision.  I suggest you work through the SOCRR model of the Decision Briefing casts (Part 1 and Part 2).  These will help you formulate and crystallize your vision, and give you a vehicle for galvanizing others to that vision.

I can't tell you what that end game will be, because I'm not in your shoes... AND, I can tell you that it will look like you opening the communication with your team through One-On-Ones, providing reflective input into your directs' behaviors through feedback, and enhancing your directs' capabilities through effective coaching.  This will take time.  Your team didn't get into this state over night.  You won't be able to re-wire their brains in a day!  Remember... Good, Fast, or Cheap... you're only allowed to pick two!  



pdcb's picture

Thanks Michael........we are moving forward with this.  I will definitely look at the SOCRR model but in the mean time, my VP wants a plan.  

The Plan - What do we do right after this is rolled out to the department.  I know people need busy work, people want direction and I definitely need to incorporate what they will be thinking/feeling into what I say and what we do in the moments after this information is given.  Returning to business as usual, isn't quite the message I want to convey, b/.c the change is a great thing.  But aside from saying, "hey we're changing and this is exciting b/c of x/y/z" and have them resent the fact I seem to have a lack of repsect for their past leader, I'm a little lost on the delivery (b/c that is my honest thought).

People want org charts to see where they fit, but is this something I should have ready?  I think it seems like a plan was in the works.......or is it enough to tell them I will have a plan on Day x  (very short time frame)?

Just to answer your question, I have been doing O3s over the past months very very consistently, giving feedback and suggestions and we are gaining visibility between functional areas.  The majority are towing the line even though they were not sure how this all was going to fit together.  I even had a direct ask me is he should start taking over these O3s for his directs that I had been conducting (I was doing them for everyone since no system was in place once I arrived) - I said absolutely, this was the way the process should go.  I was very pleased/proud.  So there is hope......

there's just the matter of delivery and what the message should be and trying not to the plan?

mmann's picture

Let me see if I can find my soap box...

I see the decision has been made and the re-org will go forward.  Just to be clear, I'm not a big fan of re-orgs.  I like to think effective people and teams will continue to be effective without the distraction of looking at internal processes during such activities.  Like antidepressants, re-orgs are over prescribed.

That said, I've been through many of them.  I once worked for a CIO that felt there should be a re-org every 6 months or less.  He would say, "If we can't think of a better way to do something it's time to move somewhere else."  I could go on about other nuggets of confusion this CIO had, but that's for another post.

The point is, this CIO was able to pull off re-org after re-org after re-org, so he became fairly effective at them.  I, in turn, became effective at communicating the opportunity that lay ahead.  Working with leadership, you have identified an organizational structure that will be more effective for the business.  You may have discussed organizational structure with others at your company.  If so, all of that input is being carefully weighed and will be decided upon at the appropriate time.

Keep Horstman's 6th law in mind.  You might think you've kept this re-org under wraps, and you're fooling yourself.  There are no secrets.  Horstman's 3rd law assures us of that (you're not that smart, they're not that dumb).

The decision to re-org has been made, so don't spend much time talking about it.  Instead, help your team make sense of the decision.

IMO, you don't need an org chart on day one, although you should have one in the works.  What I've found is, without an updated org chart people will begin to question the commitment to a re-org after 7 calendar days, and you'll begin to hear questions and concerns after 10 calendar days.

What you DO need is what you expect to achieve with an effective re-org.  What do you hope to accomplish, how will performance be measured in relation to that goal, and what are some the levers you, and they, will use to control them?  Based on previous posts, one of your goals will have to be a more cooperative and collegiate work environment.  An environment where "they" refers to your greatest competition in the marketplace, not other people within your company.  To that end, you should be thinking of individual and team goals that will require cooperation to be successful.

You and your boss need to identify the one or two biggest problems faced by your team. for these issues you should be able to concisely state what they are.  You should be able to state, without hesitation, the current impact of the problem on the team and the business.  You should know exactly how you feel when considering such impact, and should be able to make a concise statement to that effect.

You should have a vision of what will happen to your team and/or the business if nothing changes.  What will it be like if nothing changes in the next year?  You should be able to communicate your feelings about these outcomes concisely.

You should be able to make a concise statement about how you contributed to create the problem.  You might get a pass on this one depending upon how new you are to the role.

You should be able to make a concise statement or two about the ideal outcome you'll achieve.  Something that states what will be different after the problem(s) is/are resolved.  You should be able to communicate your feelings about such changes (this will likely contrast with previous statements about feelings to create something inspirational).

After considering all these things it should lead to... restructuring the organization is the most potent step you can take to resolve the issue.

Presumably you have a vision of how business processes will change with the re-org.  This would be the time to say, "Here's what all of this means to you."   You don't have to into person-by-person detail.  That can wait until the new org chart is released.

Make sure you tell your directs you expect their full and professional cooperation with this decision.  No grumbling at the water cooler.  No negativity.

  I hope this is helpful,


pdcb's picture

thank you for such a detailed reply.  It really has made a mark and you are right and I do agree, a reorg is not an answer to ineffective teamwork.  The struggle I had and how I even got to this decision//suggestion for change was wondering how someone at that level could allow all of this to happen and seemed to promote it adn then didn't seem to care.  I woke up last night wondering if maybe this person maybe entertained thoughts about leaving anyway that we aren't aware of (yet)  just based on the disengaged attitude..........maybe a well executed goobye would be more beneficial??.....

I found myself with an emphatic nodding jesture as I read your post especially regarding all of the "you shoud be able to communicate x,y,z" because I appreciate that it will always come down to "what does it mean to me" and we need to communicate this all very carefully and effectively and specifically.

I have a contact that was able to give me a bit of advice today, he said that being lost in knowing what to do in a rollout of this nature is not neccesarily a bad thing, the alternative would be worse kind of like your boss) but if you have to roll out a change management just make sure it is done well.

I thank you for your soap box