Have You Been Re-organized? – #16

In 256BC Petronius stated that he learned that we tend to meet any situation by re-organizing, and what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization. Traverse back 2500+ years and the Managers job was still to surround himself with Eagles (Recruit), train & develop, develop plans and implement the appropriate steps (SUN TZU’S 13 Points –Blog #16). Yes, Petronius could not have known of General Motors, IBM or Sears Roebuck. Yet, today many of our businesses are very much like the huge military legions or the city-states of his era. It is amazing how closely related is the
importance of thinking, planning and implementing that covers a period of 2500+years. Change takes place often, so make sure you and your Managers are not only thinking a great deal, but communicating a great deal to build TRUST, not only about how your company should re-organize— but WHY.

What’s New? Everyone should take a few minutes to jot down this exercise – you might be surprised as to where you have been, are going and what you have and will accomplish. In my 41 + years of employment in 2 companies (Xerox & GBC/ACCO), I have personally experienced the following results with each one requiring desire for on-going learning, adaptability and most importantly flexibility.

  • Reorganizations – 7
  • Mergers – 6
  • New CEO’S – 7
  • Bosses – 14
  • Positions/Jobs – 17

The years went by so fast due to each new situation requiring a degree of adaptability/flexibility as a result of experiencing the “Fireman’s Syndrome” where the situation required a fix in personnel, structure or markets. In most instances I was able to turn around the situation and answer the call to the next fire which was somewhat easier to do on the Direct Sales side, where I was responsible for 10 branches in a Region and 200+
Sales, Service and Admin personnel. When I took charge of the Indirect Sales organization, the situation changed and I was no longer boss. Had to get the job done through and with the voluntary cooperation of the Dealer (200+on a global basis) who was the boss of the organization – totally different challenge.

If you are about to undertake a re-organization there are steps that avoid challenges in the present as well as the future:

  • As Manager know everything about your employees
  • Calculate the risks as well as opportunities of reorganization for you as well as your employees
  • Most often re – organizations in the past {256BC} took place because of “Too – Many Managers”
  • Today, {2018AD} – NYC’S former Deputy Commissioner of Bridges – said it all – when he described the conditions as follows: The Big Apple will never get its act together until “at least four Layers of Management have been removed”.

You as a Manager must have a good reading of your employers immediate and future plans – “you are constantly taking a reading”. If you see yourself as not being a part of a growth opportunity, develop a one-page plan {Blog #10 } for “EXIT” – “You Are A Free Agent” – act from strength. Keep working, but use every available free minute to keep looking for a new position – be a leader, make sure that your key employees are notgoing to be negatively affected by this re-organization – then work on positioning yourself accordingly.

Most employees who don’t have a Manager that has their interests at heart, will stay with a sinking ship because they believe that something good will happen and save their employment. We just have to look at Sears Roebuck retail store employees – the last store closed the week of August 1st , 2018. All those folks lost their jobs that day, one could blame them for not taking their fate in their own hands once they saw the big picture. However, if the Management has a level of TRUST established, the employees believe and usually their key manager has long ago left. This is a difficult decision making environment for Management because they have their own interests as a priority to insure that they maximize their severance packages and at the same time squeeze every penny so these Customized Severance Packages can be paid for at the time of separation. Very few Managers care about the employees who aren’t as well equipped to be changing jobs. Make sure that all your employees understand they are “Free Agents” and should be constantly be looking out for their long-term growth opportunities is vital to establishing the needed factor of TRUST. This last point should raise some debate over BLOG content and direction.

If you are not affected by the re-organization, make sure that you as a Manager have a “Free Agent Exit Plan” in place. Also make sure that you have one in Place for the employee. When a company goes through an acquisition, there are usually 2 Managers for each position – and with your “Free Agent Exit Plan” you will be in a position to negotiate a lucrative separation deal. I had a Plan so that I knew when it was time to leave – I left after 11 years for a better position – only to be re-hired after one year with a significant improvement in responsibilities and compensation.

While all these reorganization events are taking place, there is a great deal of predecessor Management blame going on. Before you join into predecessor blaming – remember you were part of that group and played a role in the overall management of the organization. How accountable are you?

Golde’s Rule – Unless Management addresses the organizations core problems in the re-organization, it usually buys a very short time to pretend at managerial action. Companies have to be flexible and change in order to be in step with the competition and other missing factors, but to not address the core challenges that they face in realistic terms usually is the forewarning of being acquired with insiders and top management representing the only winners in this scenario. Meanwhile the wolf packs are gathering and trying to acquire the business for the lowest overall price they can get the owners or top management to accept. Having worked for a company – which had no innovation, supply chain knowledge and no acquisition experience – will make a good topic for a future BLOG.