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.
Are your projects always (or almost always) late and over budget? Are your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around. Read 52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented Organizations, filled with tips and techniques for organizational leaders. Order Now!
 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.
- Are You Taking on the Full Load?
- Taking on the full load is what we do when we feel fully responsible for either the success or the failure
of some organizational activity. Instead of asking for help, we take extreme measures to execute responsibilities
that might not even be ours.
- When Naming Hurts
- One of our great strengths as Humans is our ability to name things. Naming empowers us by helping us
think about and communicate complex ideas. But naming has a dark side, too. We use naming to oversimplify,
to denigrate, to disempower, and even to dehumanize. When we abuse this tool, we hurt our companies,
our colleagues, and ourselves.
- The Uses of Empathy
- Even though empathy skills are somewhat undervalued in the workplace context, we do use them, for good
and for ill. What is empathy? How is it relevant at work?
- Filtered Perceptions
- How we see things influences how we see things, almost like a filter or sunglasses. What are your filters?
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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.