Lost in Transition
I’m sorry for the decreased writing output lately. Things have been a little tough on the home front. I’ve actually written a couple of articles over the last two weeks, but I don’t think I’m going to publish them. I don’t like the first one very much after reading it (go figure) and I’m just not sure if I believe the other one yet. While I won’t elaborate on the first article, the second is going to be the foundation of what follows.
Work has been tough lately. I’ve experienced much more failure in the last few months than I’m used to. It appears that I haven’t pissed anybody off too badly because management is still supportive, but I’m personally frustrated with myself and with the circumstances that I didn’t do a better job of mitigating. On top of that, my department is going through a re-organization.
This is a re-org like none I’ve ever seen before. When our new leader joined the department at the end of last year he did not lose responsibility for the resources that he was already managing. As a result, his staff of direct reports represented two departments worth of managers, many in duplicative functions. In order to get his direct staff down to a more manageable level and to start moving us towards his visions for the department he is whittling his direct reports down to 5. The jobs are specifically geared towards the efforts that he wants us to focus on and have been posted for anyone to apply for.
Obviously this leaves our current management staff in a real bind. It doesn’t appear that layoffs are imminent, but based on how things shake out there are going to be people losing span of control and will find themselves reporting to people who were their peers a week ago. On top of that, the reorg will redesign the department to feature smaller, matrixed teams underneath this new level of management. For those who don’t know, a matrixed organization is a department that features groups and teams that are guided by leaders without a direct reporting relationship. In other words, you may report to person X but you’re ostensibly managed by person Y. In the best case scenario person X and Y are on the same page, but that’s not always the case in the real world, even when it’s unintentional.
That makes the job of matrixed leader extremely difficult. I should know; I’ve been in that role since September of last year. The difficulty stems from the lack of true authority. A matrixed leader has to be able to accomplish things by selling the team on an idea and by pushing just hard enough to move people without pushing so hard that they get offended and dig in their heels. Over the last few months I’ve realized how much I dislike the role of matrixed leadership.
It’s not about the people or the work, so much as it’s the fact that everything is harder to accomplish as a matrixed leader when compared to being a direct manager. I may have to spend days convincing someone of something whereas the manager of the area can just say “Do it” and deal with the explanations on the back end.
So that leaves me with a critical decision, do I stay or do I go? One day you’ll find me working on my resume, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. The very next day I’m convinced I should stay and let things play out before making any decisions. I’m writing about it now because I do some of my best thinking when I’m writing.
First things first, I know that there are certain givens. For example, I know that I will not apply for one of the 5 new management positions. If the last year has taught me anything it is that there is a level of proficiency and knowledge that is required to be a good manager in an IT organization that I just don’t possess. That’s not to say that I can’t be successful, my talents spike above the minimum in a number of places, but I just don’t have the experience in the IT world to believe that I should be the person in one of those roles.
The other given is that if I find myself in one of the 3rd tier roles, as a worker bee under another person who reports to a new manager then it won’t be too long before I find something else. I’ve experienced too much success on the business side of the organization to allow myself to start sliding backwards. I need to be in roles with leadership responsibilities. If I don’t find myself on that track then I’ll know it’s time to shift back to the business side.
After that, I’m indecisive. A part of me wants no part of a matrixed leadership position. It’s more trouble than it’s worth. You get all of the work and pain of leadership with none of the perks. Plus, I have no idea which team I might end up on. I can see multiple possible landing spots. Worse, the spot that I’m most likely slated for is something that I’ve realized I don’t love.
On the other hand, I’m a stable person, I’m a reliable person. I’ve made mistakes over the last few months which indicate a great growth opportunity. Sure it might be more painful, but lessons are lessons and the more lessons I’m learning now the more successful I’ll be in the future. Plus, I really don’t know for sure where I’m going to land. If I leave too soon I may miss out on a better opportunity than I’m imagining. The wise move would be to be patient and let the pieces settle before making any moves.
I suppose I won’t be the only one in that boat. Most people that I’ve talked to seem to agree that there will be a significant loss of talent over the next few months once the decisions are made and people are faced with a new reality. Who knows, maybe things will be terrible and I’ll be in that first wave. On the other hand, maybe that first wave creates new opportunities for growth that I didn’t anticipate.
Gah, all this writing and I’m no better than when I started. I think I’m going to be best served by being patient and playing a waiting game. I’ve invested 2 years in this department and I’d hate to rush out the door before fully understanding my circumstances. That being said, it probably doesn’t hurt to update the resume in the next couple of weeks, just in case.
Posted on April 14, 2012, in Real Life and tagged business, Decision making, job hunting, layoffs, leadership, Management, matrix, matrixed organization, matrixed teams, Organization, Reorg, reorganization, resume, Span of control. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.