The dreaded org change

Organizational changes suck, no doubt about it.

It doesn’t matter what position you are in or how good you are at your job, an “org change” means that things will be different, which often threatens your normal day-to-day.

Org changes sometimes mean a new boss, moving offices, a new job title or even new responsibilities. Departments are combined, outsourced or expanded. The flavors of org changes are numerous. From my experience, in amidst org changes almost no one is safe (no matter how high up the corporate chain you go).  At my company a few years ago, I saw how a merger integration meant that a significant number of VPs and senior executives found themselves demoted or jobless.

While through many org restructurings I have been lucky (for example only experiencing a departmental name change… in a previous sales leadership role my team organization changed names 4 times in 3 years), the dreaded org change finally caught up with me a little over a year ago.

When the org changed was announced (in this case, the combining of two sales organizations), I thought that it would be like every other org change I experienced before. My boss always had the top results (as did I) and I had made a name for myself, even being temp-promoted to manage an entire of the country. At the very worst, I may lose one of my employees and inherit a few from the department we were combining with.

Man was I dead WRONG!

With this org change, my boss moved to another state and took over another department. Plus, my new chain of command was all from the other organization we combined with. I had managed the #1 team in the region for 4 years straight. My territory was the city where I worked and I worked in the city where I lived. My stellar reputation (apparently) didn’t matter at all, as I was given a brand new team (or low performers) and my office was moved 40 miles away while my new team’s territory was actually 80-100 miles away. Additionally, my new boss did not even out the new teams, given better performers to the managers from his previous team.

What’s even worse was that a reputation of being the best for 4 years (while being at the top of the list to be promoted to the next level)  was completely erased. I was back to square one. My new department leaders had their own list of favorites and a different way to measure who was good and who wasn’t. Moreover, since I was given a suboptimal team, it would be even harder to re-prove myself.

In case you experience what I did, here are some quick thoughts on how to handle things the right way:

  • Don’t complain– While you may be known as a successful hard worker with your previous co-workers, the new ones don’t know you will and will brand you as a bitter complainer if that is what they hear out of you when you first start working together.  Make sure to keep your good reputation in tact.
  • Be agile– Learn what the new team is going to be like ASAP (from a business culture perspective as well as from an expectations standpoint). If you are flexible and closely in tune with what is going on, you will be successful no matter what they throw at you. Resiliency is also important, sometimes you need to muscle your way through a tough situation (it will make you stronger).
  • Know when it is a good time to move on– Don’t assume that because of an org change that it is time to get a new job or that things will automatically be terrible (sometimes org changes end up being a good thing). At the same time though, realize that sometimes these changes mark a good time for you to move on. These moves are not always instantaneous but a reorg may be a signal to start looking. For me, I had been in my role for almost 4 years, had weathered 4 restructurings and had accomplished all I wanted to accomplish.  While it did take 5 months, I was finally able to secure that promotion I was being groomed for, and I love my new job even more than the one I had before the reorg.

Remember, reorgs do not signal the end of the world and may be are a great time to take a step back; with the purpose of  both figuring out new ways to be successful in an adapted work environment and to decide whether it is time to do something new.




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About Young Professional's Edge (YP Edge)

Aaron McDaniel is a corporate manager, entrepreneur, author, public speaker and community leader. Aaron has held numerous management roles at a Fortune 500 company, being appointed Regional Vice President at the age of 27, and is the founder of multiple entrepreneurial ventures. He is also the author of the book, The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World ( Aaron instructed a highly rated student-led course on leadership at UC Berkeley’s Haas Undergraduate School of Business and has a book, The Young Professional's Guide to the Working World: Savvy Strategies to Get In, Get Ahead, and Rise to the Top, due to be out later this year. Aaron offers advice that helps young professionals build the foundation for a successful career. Visit his blog, to learn more.

Posted on January 26, 2012, in Lessons Learned, Tips & Tricks and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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