On team reorganizations

Businesses default to re-organizing their teams when they want to do things differently. While this does solve certain problems, it’s not always the silver bullet.

I’ve been part of several changes in teams, and I’ve seen people move teams. I’ve seen re-orgs happen so many times that I’ve gotten tired of them. The people doing the re-orgs see them as a panacea to everything, but they often miss the details.

When you work with someone for several years, you get to know what interests them vs what doesn’t, and who they love working with. And it works the other way round, too: they understand what you’re good at and love doing, and also know how you contribute to the team.

When re-orgs happen, everyone who’s part of the re-org needs to start from square one in building these relationships and trust again. The new team doesn’t have any rapport internally, and if you’re the decision-maker, you need to build that trust with the team all over again. If you’re in a managerial role where you’re helping people figure out what they want to do, you need to try several things to see what your teammates actually enjoy doing until they’re back in the groove.

Trust and relationships are factors left unconsidered because more often than not, everyone’s looking at people as numbers in a spreadsheet. Sure, you’re evaluating how someone fits into the new team’s composition based on their skillset, but what you’re not accounting for is how much it takes people to re-establish the rapport, and camaraderie all over again.

If two people love working together very much (and they’re ambitious), it might be a good idea to not split them into two different teams for arbitrary reasons. You never know – they might go on to working together on new projects or products that make a bigger impact in your business than what re-orgs possibly can. A spreadsheet cannot help you quantify these losses 🙂

I’m not arguing that re-orgs cannot happen at all – that’d be stupid. I’m just saying: the next time you do a re-org in your teams, consider these factors consciously and evaluate if they’re the best decision you can make to solve a problem.

After all, there’s more to re-orgs than numbers in a spreadsheet.

Published by shankarganesh

Product manager. I write about products, user experience and life. I care about the little things, because it’s the little things that matter in the end.

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