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Re-orgs Hazardous to Teams

On Monday, my manager said "We're having a re-org. But don't worry. it doesn't affect anyone in my group."

She was partially correct. There is no immediate, direct, acute effect. However, the longterm indirect effects are demoralizing. We're losing three people from the Team.

This is a great Team (in the classic "Peopleware" sense). We've been careful about hiring. Everyone fits. We Like each other. We work well together. We eat lunch together.

Our Team supports the servers that handle a lot of the Companies "properties". People join the Team to be part of that, not to support on any specific property. In fact, most of the people on the Team have bounced around a bit, learning this property, then that one. They also do tools, infrastructure, and other cross-property projects.

In this re-org, a few properties have been moved out of our department. We won't be supporting them anymore. If it were up to me, I'd wave goodbye and move on. Those properties didn't bring people with them when we began support. If some other team will be supporting them now, then that's what should happen.

But for some reason, some higher-up manager decided to move the people who are currently providing the support along with the projects. The people weren't asked their opinion. They were told. Once more, as so often happens, the employees are being treated like cogs.

When you join a company, you have choices. the recruiting process is a bit of a courtship. Will he fit? Does she like the offer? Would we want to work with this person 5 days a week, 8 hours a day? Can we count on this person? Can he or she count on us?

When there's a re-org, the process is different. Preferences don't matter. People aren't consulted. Your current project is moving. You manager will change. You'll work with different people. We're breaking up the team. Get used to it. Get over it. Go back to work.

Every job failure I've ever had began with a re-org.

Our management is claiming that we want people to be "happy". We want to do "what's good for the Company" and "unhappy people aren't good for the Company."

But I'm hearing a lot more emphasis on the "Good of the Company". Somehow, the underlying message comes through that unless you are absolutely sure you will be so unhappy you'll give notice, the Good of the Company should take priority over your own preferences... or the Good of the Team.

Because that's what's happening here. We're sacrificing the Good of the Team — a known quantity — for someone's half-baked theory about what might improve the Company.

It's only a re-org. It's not a layoff. These three people will still be here, somewhere on "campus". We may even see them.

But we won't work with them every day. The synergy will be gone. Their experience, knowledge, and expertise will be lost. And a little piece of another Team will die.

December 6, 2007 in category Career Center, Productivity, Relationships | Permalink

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