Reorganizations and team changes can be a time of uncertainty for team members. Will they like their new team members and work as much? How will their roles change?
When you're in an office, a reorg tends to involve a sense of change as a matter of course, as people move their desks around and so on. But for full-remote teams, the transition can be more abrupt if you're not careful, simply having a different set of squares pop up in your next Zoom meeting.
Our team at Wave recently got to a size where we felt we had to split it to stay effective. This was going to be a sad day for many of us, and I went looking for ideas to help us process the transition. Here's the process that we ended up leading.
If you try this, I would love to hear about your experiences and variations, so please send me a note!
The goal of this meeting is to help the team members mark the transition by recognizing the emotions around the change, and putting their experience in the context of a larger process. To do this, there are three rounds of asking every group member share their thoughts & memories:
Joining the Old Team: Each person shares a memory of how it felt to join the team originally
This creates the first marker of their journey. It also highlights the different perspectives and preconceptions that people have when joining a group at different stages of its existence. This can help people realize that some of their concerns about the transition may turn out to be unfounded, by reminding them of past preconceptions that turned out differently.
Saying Goodbye: Each person shares a memory involving another team member that they'll no longer be working with
It's likely that people will be sad about spending less time with teammates they liked and respected, so this gives an opportunity to celebrate the times they had together, express appreciation, and say goodbye.
Looking Forward: Each person shares something that they're looking forward to about their new team
This helps end the meeting on an optimistic note, and reminds the team members of the agency that they can have in creating their next round of experiences.
One or two days before the meeting, share your prompt with the team, so they have some time to prepare their thoughts. Here's what we used:
We'll do three go-arounds, where each person shares their thoughts on these prompts:
Go-around #1: Share a memory of your first impressions of Payments team as it was when you were joining it
Go-around #2: Share a memory involving one of your Payments teammates who won’t be on your new team
Go-around #3: Share a thought about something you’re looking forward to on your new team
In the first (joining the old team) round, go first in giving your memory, to help break the ice and set the tone
In the second (leaving the old team) round, try to be one of the last people to go, and keep track of who's been called out in other people's memories. That gives you a chance to share memories of anyone who might have been left out
We ran this for a group of 12 on Zoom, and it took us almost exactly an hour. Adjust your time estimates based on group size!
My co-lead Joyce Keeley, who contributed the second-round tip above by reflexively doing it the first time we ran this meeting!
Dynamic Reteaming by Heidi Helfand
Rituals for Virtual Meetings by Kursat Ozenc and Glenn Fajardo
Thanks to beta readers Carrie Tian and Joyce Keeley