A change in leadership is more likely now than ever as 10,000 baby boomers–who are often in leadership positions–retire each day.
In order to help employees move through this type of adjustment, here are some helpful tips:
When in doubt, over-communication is better. Talking early and often about the change–along with what is known, and what is not–and what will happen when a leadership change is imminent, is helpful. It defuses fear, anxiety, and the stories employees make up when such a significant event is going to occur.
Answer questions quickly. Employees are likely to have questions as leadership changes occur. Encouraging questions and then answering them quickly allows a level of predictability. Employees can predict that if they have a question, there will be an answer (even if that answer is “let me get back to you”) that is responsive to their question. This eases employee tension and helps promote unity as the organization is in a state of flux.
Expect a higher level of emotion and be there to help. New leaders create new uncertainties, and people like certainty. Employees are likely to be anxious during this time. Treating employees with empathy, by listening to their concerns, is a way to decrease that anxiety.
Focus on business plans for moving forward. A change in leadership is likely not going to change the overall mission and vision of the organization. It is also true that the organization likely has a business plan it is currently following. Focusing on how customers and stakeholders will continue to benefit from the organization will help remind employees that their jobs remain the same and help them focus on the organization’s purpose.
Change, while inevitable, is also stressful. Make it as easy as possible by being transparent, helpful, and kind.