A change in leadership can be a stressful time in a company. Whether it was planned, unexpected, upper-level, or middle management, employees are affected by a leader’s departure. As a remaining leader, it’s up to you to step up and do what you can to lead and support your own team through the change.
Just as in any stressful workplace situation, according to Business Review USA, “it’s important that managers lead by example. As a leader it’s critical you keep a lid on your own emotions; don’t let negativity, anger or stress rub off on your employees. As a manager, be sure to keep your team abreast of the latest developments and departmental changes.” In addition, there are also four specific actions you can take to help your team through the departure of leadership.
Reassure The Team
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the departure, your team will require a varying level of reassurance. But, at the bare minimum, give them the maximum amount of details legally and ethically allowed. Explain the plan for handling the loss and how the empty position will be dealt with. Also, take a few minutes to focus on what isn’t changing within the overall company so employees have a well-rounded picture of what they can expect.
Restate The Team’s Goals
This type of stressful situation can easily throw people off track and cause general confusion, so help your team refocus on what’s within their power. Most likely, the specific goals of the team won’t be changed by one leader’s departure, which means you can remind everyone of the objectives and motivate them in their individual roles in achieving those goals. And, if there are any changes, this is the time to bring them up and get your team onboard with the new plan.
Review The Chain of Command
When a leader exits, the chain of command may shift. Hopefully, your organization has interim and succession plans already in place. But, whether this shift is slight or major, it’s important to review the new hierarchy with employees. Not only will these changes impact who employees direct specific requests or needs to, it could also impact how projects and tasks progress. By ensuring your team knows the new channels to go through, you’ll save them undue stress and frustration down the road.
If the change in leadership more directly impacts your team, you’ll need to include your employees in a conversation about the reallocation of responsibilities. If possible, let them fully participate in the conversation and offer their opinions. Often, the best ideas come from the people who are hands on with the projects. The priority is keeping everyone on the same page so projects, customers, and productivity are minimally impacted.
While you may not be able to alleviate all the stress and uncertainty following a leader’s exit, taking the time to address these four main areas will go a long way with your team. The reassurance will be appreciated by your employees, and productivity will also be less likely to suffer. Just don’t forget to touch base with your team on a regular basis about these points until the leadership situation is totally resolved.
What else have you found helpful to your team when changes in leadership have occurred? Share your own experiences and ideas in the comments section below.