Overheard at a lunchtime conversation in the company cafeteria:
Employee: “That sure was a big announcement by the CEO this morning. They’re really moving the boxes on the org chart this time. What’s your reaction?
Mid-level manager: (shrugging shoulders, sounding nonchalant) “Meh. I’ve been around this place for a long time. It’s just same monkeys, different trees, as far as I’m concerned.”
As a leader, you may have become blasé about corporate restructuring, especially if you’re a survivor of numerous downsizing/outsourcing/right-sizing battles. Trust me on this one when I say: You may be feeling chill about the latest company reorg, but the employees who report to you most decidedly are NOT.
There’s an old adage out there that says “people resist change”. I think that’s not quite accurate. In my opinion, it’s not always the actual proposed change that people are resisting. Rather it’s the disruption their work lives are about to undergo when they hear of organizational realignment. Even when an announced change is welcome (“Finally, it’s about time!”), there is still that period of uncertainty and lack of clarity about “who does what”.
If your department is in any way affected by your company’s reorganization, there are several things that your team members will want to know before they can move to the task of making the change. Typically, their questions proceed in the following series of steps:
- As you might suspect, the first reactions tend to be “Me” questions, like:
- Where do I fit?
- Will I like it?
- What will I be required to do?
- Then, once those questions are answered, people expand their curiosity beyond themselves to:
- Where do others on my team fit?
- What happens if there’s not a place for others?
- Then, people start to assimilate how this change might be useful:
- What are the benefits to me, my team and the company?
- And finally (and only after all the other questions have been answered) are people ready to discuss the transition:
- What’s the process for the changeover?
In my experience, leaders often breeze through steps 1 -3, providing only the most cursory of explanations. They want to move as quickly as possible to step #4. Here’s the problem with rushing steps 1 – 3: if people aren’t comfortable with the answers to the first three steps, then they’ll find a way to get the team back to the step for which they require more information.
Don’t be a blasé leader. Even if you perceive the organizational change to be a non-issue, be sure to build in time to communicate the changes. You’ll probably need to communicate the change numerous times and in several formats in order for it to sink in.
Not sure where to begin? Try these four ideas for getting people to buy into your change.