Why Constant Reorganizations Kill Morale

If your goal is to lower morale in a matter of seconds and you are in a leadership position, all you have to do is announce reorganizations on a regular basis. Now, I understand reorgs are necessary in ever-changing and growing organizations. I’m talking about reorgs that seem to be just for the sake of change and that are not understood by the employee population.

If the leaders of your organization are conducting major reorgs every three to six months, employee satisfaction and engagement will certainly decrease. As an HR Representative who witnessed this and listened to employees’ concerns at past companies, here are some of the comments and concerns:

• “What are my different responsibilities? My new manager doesn’t even know his or her team’s new focus.”
• “The changes have been announced, but I don’t know who my new manager will be yet. Why would leadership announce changes but not share any relevant information?”
• “I am not going to give my best effort because I will just have a new manager in a few months anyway and will have to start all over, so why bother?”
• “People leave managers, not companies. I am unsure about my new manager and whether we will connect. I joined the company because I wanted to work for my current manager.”
• “Does the leadership team know what they are doing? It’s like they are just throwing random ideas out there and hoping one will stick.”
• “Maybe the changes should be made at the top and some of those people should lose their jobs instead of pointing fingers at the worker bees.”
• “As soon as I get to know my teammates and we develop a good groove, they change up the team and all that effort is lost.”
• “Is my position going to be eliminated?”
• “I am being moved into a new role that I’m not interested in career-wise. Does anyone care about my needs?”
• “Can someone tell me what my new title is?”
• “I wish they would have publically announced that newly created role. I would have been interested in applying. I didn’t even get a chance.”
• “How am I supposed to make progress on my projects when my role changes so frequently?”
• “How is my work going to be evaluated at the end of the year since I’ve changed roles three times and have had three different managers in the past twelve months?”

Every time a new reorganization is announced, it takes at least a few weeks for employees to calm down, decrease their anxiety level, stop gossiping, and get back to work. So, even though the goal may be to increase efficiency or improve processes or better serve the customer, balls get dropped due to the uncertainty of roles and responsibilities. No one knows who is in charge of what for a period of time.

Reorganizations need to be thoroughly planned, specific roles and responsibilities determined before the announcement is made, and communicated in a way where employees’ buy-in is sought.

Changes naturally cause anxiety for people, so I’m asking leaders to really think through the impact and urgency of reorgs before making the changes.