Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Reorganization Transition...

I usually take the opportunity to write about cloud security or information security events in general. But today I thought I would share a few thoughts on something that foremost in my mind at the moment — the transition that occurs after a company goes through a significant reorganization.

As you may (or may not) know, I am employed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). I *LOVE* working for HPE — it provides opportunities for me that I literally could not have as an employee anywhere else in the world.

On Monday, HPE announced a significant reorganization in the cloud business line. I say significant — as it is significant to me. HPE is by far the largest company I have ever worked for, and is the only pure play tech sector company that I have worked for as well. But talking to any number of HP(E) “old timers” and they will tell you that this is the normal course of business, not only at HP(E) but throughout the tech industry.

I have no criticism of the reorg, as I think it is still too early to tell what impact it will have on the business. I know that our executive team is doing what they believe is in the best interest of the long term strategy of HPE, and at some point you have trust that they know what they are doing. To date — they really do know what they are doing, and the demerger from HP has actually been a very positive thing.

My thoughts are not really on the good and bad that is the reorganization, but more on the effects of the reorg on the people that are going through it.

Communication is key: The announcement, and subsequent meetings, about the reorganization are extremely important. Employees (and often the media, customers and competitors) want to know as much in the way of details that the company can share. Blogs, internal meetings, press releases and phone calls go a long way to providing that level of initial comfort.

A company is still made up of people: If I have learned a single thing over the 20+ years that I have been in the working world, it is that people make the business. Specifically, most employees choose to work for the company that they work for because of the people that they get to work with. There is a great quote by Marcus Buckingham that states that “People leave managers, not companies.” I agree with this statement, though people leave companies for more reasons than just their managers.

All comes down to trust: People need to be able to trust the company that they work for. Reorgs erode some of that trust, as it adds a level of uncertainty to the everyday equation. It is extremely difficult to be motivated to do a job when you don’t know if that job will exist the next day following a reorganization. Those that have been through numerous reorgs will probably tell you that it will all work out, but they are also wondering about what is going on as well. More than anything, it is a huge stressor, and sometimes it is just enough to check and see if the grass is greener on the other side…

Morale cannot be overlooked: People view and handle a company reorganization in different ways. Many embrace the opportunities the reorg will bring to them. Others have a feeling of uncertainty about their jobs, careers and how to make the next mortgage payment. I am personally somewhere in the middle of that — I am fairly certain that I will continue to have a job, as I think I provide a social media outlet that is valuable to my audience and to the company. But there is also a certain amount of trepidation about how that job and responsibilities will evolve. Part of this is solved with communication, part is solved with time, and part is solved in discussions with others about what is going on (kind of like I am doing here). The morale of the employees cannot be taken for granted — especially in my industry, there are just too many potential opportunities for employment for a manager / company to assume that an unhappy employee will just stick around.

The transition comes from acceptance — one day you go from being part of a reorg to part of a company. That transition is a nebulous thing, as there are companies that are in constant states of reorganization. At some point, an employee needs to “embrace the horror” as it were. And as my colleagues will tell me, most of the time, nothing really changes and it is business as usual. For example: most reorganizations are due to a reshuffling in the executive ranks. But does that really have a direct day-to-day impact on the job function of someone that reports 6 levels below them? Not usually. Sure — the company’s vision or strategy may change a little. The line employee may be asked to focus on the new product or direction, but those kinds of shifts occur all the time anyway, regardless of a reorganization.

No, the reorg transition is just one of those things that happens. To some, it is as natural to them as it is coming to work on any other day. For others, it means promotions and greater opportunities.

I certainly do not have all of the answers from the latest reorg that I am a part of, and arguably there is no one in my company that completely does. So I am going to choose to roll with the change, and embrace the transition while hoping for the best.

I’ll keep you in the loop as to what happens…