Publication 14, Issue 4
Wow, spring is finally here and we’re outside walking, running, taking care of our lawns and sitting on our decks for happy hour instead of in front of the fireplace – woo-hoo! We’re all changing and it looks like my clients are changing their organizations too!
At almost every meeting I went to this month, I found my clients were “reorganizing” their departments. Most of the time, reorganization is a proactive event. Leaders want to showcase the talent, get a better outcome, change a process, or respond to a customer need. Communicating to the staff during these times is easy: the leader explains why the change was made, people ask a few questions, and go about their day-to-day work.
But there are times when reorganization is a reactive event – and those times aren’t so easy. Reactive reorganizations can happen when a supervisor resigns, work production erodes, or supervisors are just unwilling to see that their work contributions need to be about more than their technical competence.
Before you start moving the boxes on an org chart – stop, think, and ask yourself, “If this were my company, would I organize my department this way?” If the answer is “no,” then think about making a change that will positively impact your staff and your organization.
Being proactive gives you a chance to think about the big picture, collect feedback, then move decisively. If your reorganization is reactive, you have very little time to think things through. Moving the deck chairs is a quick fix without a lot of staying power and communicating a rationale to the staff becomes difficult. So, if you are going to make organizational moves, be bold! If the moves aren’t bold, don’t bother!
Organizations are going to continue to put people into supervisory roles because they are great technical staff members – that’s the harsh reality of organizational life. Most of the time we just don’t have an extra supervisor hanging around to fill in when there’s a vacancy. I get that! But don’t miss the importance of having someone in a supervisory position who knows the technical work and can connect with people, assign work, make the environment pleasant and communicate the bigger picture. These interactions really do matter!
Remember, all of my Playground Personalities can be happy and productive supervisors; they just look different. One Playground Personality type is not better than another, i.e., Organizers don’t make better supervisors than Revolutionaries. They have different strengths. Here’s a quick review:
Peacemakers – include people in decision making processes, ask for feedback and try to implement the feedback!
Organizers – clarify the work and the roles of their staff; they keep the trains on schedule!
Revolutionaries – look at the people and the situation they are in and make it better!
Steamrollers – see all sides of an issue and are able to explain “why” without getting in the weeds!
So make sure you have the right people in supervisory roles. Don’t move people into those important positions because people like them, they get a ton of work done, they move fast, or they are IQ smart. Any one of those skills is a great attribute, but a strong supervisor will have all of those skills in some measure and the technical competence to provide both oversight and vision.
Keep your long-range organizational plan fit and continually evaluate your staff so when you’re ready to implement a reorganization, you have the right people to make it work!