Reflections on a flattened team and formalizing processes despite culture clashes | Skillshare Projects

Reflections on a flattened team and formalizing processes despite culture clashes

I work within a fairly new and innovative team within a large, somewhat traditional corporation in the media industry.  I was brought in as a layer of management within the team between the team's head and everyone else on the team, none of whom reported to each other.  After 18 months (3 months ago), the head of the team decided to flatten the structure such that everyone reports to her.  She thinks I failed as a manager, though I suceeded in other respects (sales and biz dev), so she's restructured the team to play to everyone's strengths.

Naturally, I've been thinking about this 'failure' a lot lately.  In speaking with her and other people on the team, the issue was that I was new to the industry, and I didn't get up to speed quickly enough to be able to help the team really improve on what they were doing.  I played to my strengths, which include sales, and I neglected the areas where I'm weak, which were more industry-specific.  

But in thinking about this situation in terms of MOD(es), I realize I focused too much on architecture and not enough on processes.  I helped move the team from a Sandbox into a Forest, which reflected many other, more established teams within the organization.  

Given the recent flattening, the team's architecture is now simpler (with my seniority as a casualty of that decision), and our processes are definitely better.  But they could still be much better, and in retrospect, I should have focused on that when I arrived because that would have had a greater positive impact on the team.

I struggled with formalizing process because the culture of the team was not very process-oriented.  Or if it was process-oriented, my style of communicating and implementing process changes didn't fly.  So I basically encountered a change management problem wrapped in a culture clash, and I didn't recognize all of this as I was going.  Instead I reacted to it by avoiding the stuff that's hard for me and focusing on the stuff that comes easy, which, fortunately, still added a lot of value to the team and company. 

But my question is this: how do you formalize processes in a way that meshes with the culture of the organization or team you're trying to change?  Are there ways to diagnose culture to approach this challenge and minimize risk as much as possible, particularly when your style is at odds with that of your team?


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