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HRHeadStart #50: The Value of Reorg; Finding Sponsors in (un)Meritocracies
The Talent Agenda
As we head into a period of economic uncertainty, it is very possible that several organizations will turn to the common intervention of organization (re)design or reorg. I have noted earlier that this is not only about drawing boxes and lines to create an org chart. That merely draws out the roles and power structures. However, org design encompasses a broader set of factors and Jay Galbraith’s Star Model (see graphic below) is a great framework to think holistically about the problem. For those who want to get more familiar with the framework, here is an article and an illustrated video.
Focusing specifically on the structure, it warrants a change when it is no longer able to serve the business strategy. For instance, the strategy may be obsolete and requires a total refresh, there may be a merger/acquisition etc. But there are also situations when a structure change may not be the right lever to push. For instance, changing structures to cater to an individual person to retain them or to speed up a team’s decision-making. These may be costly and ineffective. Check out this piece to understand the role of reorgs and when and when not to pursue them.
Are organizations that claim to be truly meritocratic truly are? I think not. It is simply not possible considering that there is a human element involved in every individual evaluation process. So, how does one make progress when there is subjectivity involved?
In this TED Talk, Carla Harris talks about the importance of having a sponsor at work i.e. someone who advocates for you, spends their political or social capital for you and “pounds the table” on your behalf. She argues that there are two types of currencies in any environment: Performance Currency (something you earn by doing great work) and Relationship Currency (something you earn by investing in people and relationships). And earning these currencies allows you to find and approach people to be your sponsor. Check out her insightful talk on how to find a sponsor, what to look out for in them and why it all matters.
Mentors help you skill up. Sponsors help you level up. Find both.