Many companies are going through a complex process of digital transformation, or just pivoting their business to drive revenue or lower costs. Either way, the change may call for a restructuring of the IT team.
For instance, say you’ve wound up the big web app project -- and now you’re going full-bore into adding a data science team. Well, not everyone from the original dev team is going to have the skills or the interest to get on board. When members of the tech team resist an IT department restructuring, this can lead to serious business problems.
Fortunately, seasoned technology-team builders like the Future Infinitive Partner Vaclav Vincalek, along with his Forbes Tech Council colleagues, have dealt with the stress of transformation before, and provide some useful rules of thumb here.
Read Vaclav Vincalek on keeping productivity high during IT restructuring.
“Don’t allow gossip, rumor and misinformation to spread. Every time people hear ‘IT restructuring’ they translate it to ‘layoffs.’ When you say “digital transformation” they hear “‘losing my seniority…’
“Being well-prepared on the execution side should always include well-prepared, frequent, transparent communication. That includes clear communication both with the restructuring leaders and the senior management team... “
How to carry out that IT-restructuring communication with a changing tech team
The frequency and scale of IT restructurings continues apace. According to CIO Magazine, “CIOs, 91 percent of whom see their role as becoming more digital and innovation focused, are also increasingly being tasked with creating new revenue-generating initiatives around products and services, which warrants a different approach to IT organizational structure and staffing.”
And at these critical moments in a company, misinformation and anxiety can spread fast. Water cooler chat can get downright subversive. People worry about losing their jobs -- and fearful tech team members can go from high-value employee to disgruntled cybersecurity liability in an instant.
Facts, honestly and frequently conveyed, are what’s needed. As Vincalek says, the senior leadership needs to be on the same page. Keep people informed via the usual methods, email, Slack, etc -- but in a time of big change, companies can call “town hall” sessions where they update employees.
As a company scales up and IT restructuring gets more complex, you need to shift tactics
As you scale up, you’ll need to shift tactics to ensure the team is on the same page. Here’s Tesla founder Elon Musk, giving perspective in McKinsey on how to handle multiple restructurings as a company grows:
“If you have a junior person in one department who needs to speak to another department to get something done, he or she should be able to contact the relevant person directly, rather than go through his manager, director, then vice president, then down again, until six bounces later they get to the right person. I am an advocate of ‘least path’ communication, not ‘chain of command’ communication.”
Now that you’ve got the communication lines open -- tell them the good news about IT restructuring
But keep in mind, what IT professionals mostly want is to be given interesting problems, and the means to solve them, according to a Forbes report: “The AITP found that more than half of IT professionals want better training and development resources, and 48% say they want better opportunities for career advancement from their job.”
Level with your people -- but also, always try to frame the restructuring as a positive opportunity. That internal resistance to change may just melt away.