The following series will document activities and events during the most recent re-organization within my department (Bank, really). My goal is to share week-by-week the events as they happened, my reactions, the end result, and the emotion felt by me.
Summary: Before the announcement, there were radical changes in another department and changes in my boss’ behavior in which I began to question my ability and the possibility of me being displaced. My focus was self improvement as a leader and continue to move my team forward.
Additional Thoughts–Before the Announcement: Before I was made aware of the re-organization, I was actively working on improving my leadership skills. I was about two chapters away from finishing up The Influence Effect: A New Path to Power for Women Leaders, by Kathryn Heath, Jill Flynn, et al, and realized something was going on–but what, I did not know.
First, let me give you background on my work situation. I have been reporting to my current boss for three years now. He’s a quiet leader who is known as a people manager but does not like to disrupt. Prior to working for him, I worked for two women disruptors; one who left the Bank and returned and one who I lost working for due to a re-organization. Both powerful women are friends and both women were my mentors and sponsors. The latter woman lost her position within the re-organization to my current boss. It was/is a very sticky situation in which I’ve been able to manage by keeping my mouth shut and focusing on the volume of work before me.
Changes were taking place on the Technology side of the Bank. Although this was not expected, it was not surprising. To be honest, it felt like everything was breaking which impacted me and the systems availabilities for the branches. Much of my focus for several months was responding to branch infrastructure issues, application performance issues and releases that went in breaking processes. In short, it was a mess and taking it’s toll on me. I was frequently woken up at 6am on Saturdays and Sundays needing to coordinate branch communications on whatever the current issue was. I believe the root cause was the department’s leadership, lack of urgency, speed of change and lack of funding.
The Technology changes came in two phases, both phases quiet–no rumors flying around; someone was here today and gone tomorrow. Some of the key people were no longer around, replaced with people hired either within the Bank or outside. I was busy trying to figure out who was who; no organization charts provided, just an email of the change with no context of the new structure (i.e. Tom is no longer with the Bank, direct any issues related to Tom’s team to Joe). In my opinion, there were some who should have been gone some time ago, some I didn’t understand why they were no longer here, and some that I just didn’t comprehend why they were let go. I looked at these changes from a “household” perspective–if there are problems within my house, I need to address and fix the problem. This was also this message I told my team along with we may not understand as we do not have the whole picture.
Needless to say, there was angst in the back of my head but as there was nothing going on on our end, I continued to address the still never ending issues that resulted from the Technology group and focused on building my leadership skills. During this time frame, our CEO had his quarterly meeting with Bank leadership (me included) when he announced we’ll be undergoing changes; he was vague on what changes. I also began to realize my “returned boss” activities coincided with some of my activities as it relates to the Technology group and was getting confused/could not see the big picture.
Nonetheless, I continued until I noticed that my boss was attending meetings with my “returned boss” and excluded me. This was very unusual as my boss took little interest in my team (we ran well so my boss focused on what he knew and not my team). Internalizing being excluded from the meetings, as it had to be because of my leadership skills/something I’m lacking, I Googled (yes, Google is the Career Coach I can afford) and found a helpful article by Melissa Raffoni, How to Respond When You’re Left Out of Important Meetings. Using Melissa’s advice, I began to ask my boss and/or my “returned boss” if I could attend the meetings with the explanation of the results have direct impact to me and my team. Surprisingly, it was that easy to get an invitation. When I attended the meetings, I used more listening skills than speaking skills and only spoke with impact. Very proud of myself on how I was handling the situation–I didn’t let my emotion show and felt like I got this. Until…
Until my boss started taking an extreme, active participation in the Technology issues we were experiencing at the branch level. Again, this was very unusual because he never paid much attention to me/my team. I say his actions were extreme as they appeared to be his only focus and within the Bank’s existing situation, he had unreasonable expectations (i.e. email me hourly on each branch that was down for an update). As it stands today, an hour for me to receive notification of a problem, to understand the problem, to escalate the problem, and for Infrastructure to engage a vendor and the vendor arrival took more than 1 hour. Again, I began to internalize it was me. I was being excluded from meetings and now my boss appears to be taking over my job; why wouldn’t it be me?
As my boss was actively participating in my outage issues, I actually stepped back one Saturday morning and with pen and paper in hand, sat on my deck and analyzed a few of the situations to see where I could do better. In one sentence I described the situation then bulletted actions that took place. When I looked at the facts, the fault (if we are to blame) was not so much on my end (although I do take responsibility for not pushing my boss harder), but on his end. As he tried to work through the issues with me, I got better results than him–Technology leaders responded to me, not him.
This gave me confidence that it may not be entirely me, so I continued to push internalization away and became very exhausted having my boss on me while I try to do my job. I’m not going to lie, it was hard and exhausting. As much as I felt it wasn’t me, it was hard not to keep questioning myself. And then, it became clear.
I felt it rather unusual that my boss canceled his staff meeting that Friday; all of his managers were in and the only time he cancels his staff meeting is holidays. That Friday morning, I was on a call with a counterpart and we both received separate, individual meeting invites from my boss entitled “Update.” It was that Friday afternoon my boss told me his organization is moving under my “returned and re-org’d” boss’ team.
The news, although relieved that I wasn’t crazy (something was going on), left me in a funk for the next few days. Although my first assumption would be my boss would be displaced, there is still high uncertainty on where I’m going to fall within (or without) the organization.
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Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay