Friday, July 5, 2013

The “Reorg” and the PM’s Reaction

Rumors have been flying throughout the organization, but today the email announcing that the organizational reorganization (reorg) you have been hearing about has been delivered. Now for the bad news: the reorg directly affects your projects, and as a Project Manager (PM), you are still responsible for delivering your project(s) on time, within scope, and within budget. By the way, if you haven’t guessed it by now, there is no good news. However as a PM, you have to maintain your composure and your professional demeanor in the face of this news. Your project team depends on you to be the leader, even when this type of news directly affects you and your team.
What is the first thing you should do?
Your first reaction and response will be what is remembered by your project team. So I suggest NOT sending an email about how this reorg affects your team. Without question, schedule a meeting with your team even if some of them cannot be there in person and must conference in. The next thing is to outline what you want to discuss, namely the effect of the reorg on your team’s project and the next steps that the team will take. Preparation for this meeting is very important, even if you have only 15 minutes to do so. You must be the face of calm in this storm, so choose your words appropriately. Using terms like “screwed” or ‘blind-sided” will not help get your message across. However, you don’t want to “sugar-coat” the message either. You must be direct and stay away from jargon.  For example, “Ladies and gentlemen, the news we have been gossiping about is no longer gossip. That does not mean our responsibility of delivering this project has been eliminated. I, along with the project sponsor, will be meeting later and we will be discussing the impact of this news on our project. Until then, we expect you to deliver the quality that you have in the past. There is no doubt that this news affects us, however, we must remember what we are tasked to do and why we were chosen to be on this team.” Short and direct.
What about the questions?
Oh yes, there will be specific questions, some of which you will not know the answers. Do not be afraid to say that you don’t know the answer to a question instead of giving an answer you will have to take back later. However, you must then get the answer, especially for a question that depends on a delivery of an activity. When you have more clarity about how this affects your team, you must be transparent. In other words, you must not keep any information from your team. If the decision from the project sponsor and senior management is to discontinue funding on your project, then you must inform your team members and close the project. If you are told about something that will impact the project, even if funding continues, you must inform the team and together formulate a plan on how to meet that challenge. To sum this up, be up front with your team.
The next step…
After your meeting and gathering all the necessary information, you need to follow up with your team. Depending on the questions, you may be able to address them via email. However, if your team meeting is close, you may want to wait until then to answer questions, but do this only if the delay will not jeopardize the project. In this storm, you, the PM, will be judged on how you handled this adversity. If you handle this news as positively as you can, you will be seen in very good light.

I look forward to your comments and I am sure that this controversial topic will lead to many comments.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine. You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.  

1 comment:

  1. Benny: As always you hit the nail on the head. But I would argue your advice is sound for any manager and not only PMs.