How to communicate about reorganization

Shivani Sharma

Senior Engineering Manager at Slack



I was managing a team of backend engineers at Slack, and as the company grew we experienced more and more coordination problems when planning feature releases with the product team. I suggested to our VP that we could solve the project planning problem by creating decentralized teams. However, because Slack grew so quickly, several reorganizations had already taken place and people had changed managers several times in a year. We knew that the engineers would not see this change in a good light.

Actions taken

We started off by warning the teams that would be directly affected by the reorganization. I talked to my team during our weekly team meeting and presented the changes that would occur. I made sure that I articulated the reason for this reorganization. I also told them that I would become the manager of another team. My team was shocked. I then wrote everything out and asked each of my direct reports, during our one-ones, how they felt about the reorganization. Following this, I organized meetings between each engineer, me, and the each engineer's new manager. In these meetings, we discussed the performance and the progress of the engineer, so that their career path would not be affected by the reorganization. Finally, we announced the decision to the rest of the engineering team in a Slack channel. We ensured the weekly meetings were organized, so engineers could speak about their specialties. Lessons learned I now have a new team, but still have lunches and coffees with my old engineers and they seem to like working in their new teams. They also feel like the new organization of the teams allows them to play more of a role in projects. I think it's important to communicate important changes well. Consider:

  • what you want to communicate
  • the best way to do it (e.g. email, slack message, orally, at a team meeting or one by one)
  • what the best timeline is
  • the particular set of people involved. You should always let the people that will directly be affected by the change know first, and then the people indirectly affected.

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Shivani Sharma

Senior Engineering Manager at Slack

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