Updated: Jun 27
Looking at my experience of change management office lead in 2020, I just had a very interesting finding.
It all started in 2018 with a 50 people unit in a large corporation... Think about getting a new leadership team in place.. Few executives just moved away after 18 months of jump-starting the new unit. One ambitious employee leaving to lead a business unit department, another was hired externally as a C level to lead a digital companies and last is a veteran who just phased out to take the lead of a new venture.
The two remaining members, the head of unit and the technology lead were thus recruiting and on-boarding two new colleagues to form an new leadership team. It took then six months to norm and find the right pace in term of team dynamics... What certainly helped was having the similar educational background, same age/gender and coming all from the same country. Here possibly team skipped on diversity to get faster into performance mode.
Then think about a reorganisation coming just 6 months later .. Merging this unit with another one of 30 employees and adding three new managers among the newly formed managing team. The reunited unit need to go again in the forming storming mode... And here is when things got more complicated: managers in transition, affected by the reorganization and having a very different educational background and culture as compare to the other managers..
Illustration - Volvo Ocean Race Perfect Storm
Why it drifted ?
Maybe it was too much of an effort for the initial team who just got adjusted, to go in another team dynamic cycle. And this is possibly how you start wrongly to build a team after a reorganization. As I was leading the change management, it took me some time to understand what wasn’t working. The existing management team was eager to start executing on their action plan with no such interest to delay nor adjust their activities. There is always a risk to loose in focus while looking for synergies with newly joining managers - At the same time, the newly joining team members were disturbing the existing equilibrium by bringing a different mindset... proposing a new angle to ongoing activities and looking forward to build more collaboration...
I can refer to an interesting article from Harvard Business Review with newly added managers promoting more of a ‘Growth’ culture and not always matching the existing ‘Performance‘ culture: https://hbr.org/2018/03/create-a-growth-culture-not-a-performance-obsessed-one
Certainly not a perfect timing for culture adjustment.. and a diversity of profiles not always helping.
So at the end it is no-one to blame - just pressure to deliver and not delaying things while joining new team members were adjusting directly to norming.. a decision that paid off on the short run but got a few things unsettled at the same time that will require some more efforts and fine tuning afterwards.
The interesting development is that company has announced a new reorganization impacting possibly the managers with some refocus of activities for beginning of 2022.
This time, the Managing Team will not have the luxury to skip the team dynamics process. The best part is that with the C-Level new leader gender and nationality, we can expect in the future more diversity in our team profiles while reshaping our activities accordingly.