Last time we began exploring the Restructuring-Fear Cycle, which shows how the fear induced by restructuring can create a need for more restructuring. In effect, organizations can become addicted to restructuring. Here's Part II of our exploration.
- Credibility erosion
- When employees notice a pattern of restructuring, many assume that their own performance, and that of their business unit, will affect decisions about their job security. Correct or not, this speculation can lead to withholding bad news, or worse, creating fictitious good news. As status reports travel up the management chain, some recipients, anticipating this shading of the truth, doubt the veracity of the reports.
- When what we say to each other becomes unreliable, managing the organization becomes truly difficult. Enterprise performance is at risk. In this way, restructuring events can degrade enterprise performance, which increases the need for further restructuring. Top-to-bottom management replacement, as in a spin-off or acquisition, is sometimes the only way to end this cycle.
- Getting things in under the wire
- Among managers who recognize that further restructuring lies ahead are those who undertake so-called game-changing projects that promise a brighter future. They're hoping, in part, to enhance their own job security. Because they typically believe that the opportunity for initiating new projects is short-lived, they tend to oversell the attractiveness of their initiatives by representing them as better developed, lower-risk, more important, and more urgent than they really are.
- This dynamic can lead the enterprise to undertake too many new efforts, many of them too disconnected from its core mission. The problems inherent in development are often understated, and the downstream costs of supporting new offerings are often underestimated. Many of these efforts come to nothing. The resources invested are wasted, which leads to enhanced necessity for further restructuring.
- Roster padding
- Within most Among managers who recognize that
further restructuring lies ahead
are those who undertake so-called
game-changing projects that
promise a brighter futureenterprises, we can usually find a most-politically-powerful entity — a brand, a business unit, or a constellation of smaller entities exploiting a single market position. To employees who fear job loss as a consequence of restructuring, the most-politically-powerful elements seem like possible havens of job security.
- Managers within the politically powerful elements thus sometimes experience a flux of jobs seekers from other business units. Before the restructuring began, some of these people would not have been obtainable at the rates being offered, or not obtainable at all. Some managers succumb to the temptation to make internal hires. When external hiring is frozen, but internal transfers are still permitted, politically powerful entities can find themselves bloated with employees and projects. Their expenses climb, and soon there is need for yet another round of restructuring.
 Weinberg, Gerald M. Quality Software Management Volume 1: Systems Thinking. New York: Dorset House, 1989. Order from Amazon.com
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More articles on Emotions at Work:
- The Fallacy of the False Cause
- Although we sometimes make decisions with incomplete information, we do the best we can, given what
we know. Sometimes, we make wrong decisions not because we have incomplete information, but because
we make mistakes in how we reason about the information we do have.
- Social Safety Margins
- As our personal workloads increase, we endure more stress and more time pressure. Inevitably, we have
less time for the social niceties that protect us from accidentally hurting each other's feelings. When
are we most at risk of incidental harm, and what can we do about it?
- Be With the Real
- When the stream of unimportant events and concerns reaches a high enough tempo, we can become so transfixed
that we lose awareness of the real and the important. Here are some suggestions for being with the Real.
- Toxic Conflict in Virtual Teams: Virtuality
- In virtual teams, toxic conflict sometimes seems to erupt spontaneously. People who function effectively
in co-located teams can find themselves repeatedly embroiled in conflicts that seem to lack specific
causes. What triggers toxic conflict in virtual teams?
- Scope Creep and the Planning Fallacy
- Much is known about scope creep, but it nevertheless occurs with such alarming frequency that in some
organizations, it's a certainty. Perhaps what keeps us from controlling it better is that its causes
can't be addressed with management methodology. Its causes might be, in part, psychological.
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- Sometimes meetings are less effective than they might be because of cultural factors that are outside our awareness. Here are some examples. Available here and by RSS on October 4.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.