Big internal transitions can have a challenging impact on businesses, especially when leadership is changing. In order to ensure a seamless transition if you are bringing in a new leader, it’s important to proactively ease any concerns and be available to answer questions your team may have about the new manager.
To find out more, we asked the members of Young Entrepreneur Council for their insights on this question:
Transition can be hard on teams, particularly if leadership is changing. What is the best way to help employees and ease concerns when there is a leadership transition?
1. Craft an internal communications plan
Craft a communications plan early in the process and commit to communicating with transparency. Develop supporting materials for leaders like talking points, FAQs, updated org charts, etc. Address the questions at the forefront of employees’ minds—e.g., what does this mean for me and my job? Encourage questions and answer as openly as possible. —Traci Beach, Craft Impact
2. Set clear post-transition expectations
The most significant concern an employee has during leadership transitions is whether their jobs are safe. It’s vital to create a post-transition plan where roles and expectations are clearly defined. Sharing this information will go a long way to ease concerns during a leadership transition. —Blair Williams, MemberPress
3. Make yourself available and ask for feedback
We’ve had a change in leadership this year at my company, and I found that being entirely transparent and over-communicating helped my team with the transition in a way that made everyone feel more comfortable and less anxious. Having extra office hours and asking for lots of feedback can also help. It’s also vital to introduce leaders in a way that helps them connect with each team member. —Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage
4. Have a succession plan
The only time a change in leadership would be particularly hard on a team is if they didn’t expect it. Having a succession plan ensures employees that the company has set goals and objectives that were set by previous leaders as well. A succession plan eases their worry and establishes confidence in the future of your company. —Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
5. Establish priorities for certain tasks
When leaders change and good executives leave, employees may find themselves struggling without their trusted mentors and with more work than usual. Communicate with your employees about the most important tasks that need to be completed during the transition period. That way they have a means to focus and to complete their projects in a timely fashion. —Riccardo Conte, Virtus Flow
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6. Acknowledge the discomfort
Be authentic and acknowledge that times of transition are inherently uncomfortable. Assure your team that you will share information as you are able to and will support them in this time of change. At the same time, keep focused on your goals and provide steady guidance to the team as you weather the transition together. —Stan Garber, Scout RFP
7. Hold 1:1 meetings with team members
During times of leadership transition, you should get together with your team members for 1:1 meetings. During these meetings, your employees can comfortably address their concerns or ask any questions they have. Doing this will help you get to know your employees better and you can make each of them more comfortable with the transition, based on their individual needs. —Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster
8. Remind them you’re still focused on the mission
People hate change, even though it can be a good thing. Everyone on our team buys into our overall mission. The mission doesn’t change when there are personnel changes. When there is management instability, it’s the perfect time to reiterate that we’re still focused on the bigger task at hand and that the vision is still the same. —Joel Mathew, Fortress Consulting
9. Be confidently transparent in real time
Uncertainty leads to unnecessary questions, worry, and rumors. Let employees know what’s going on, why it’s happening, and what that means for them moving forward before the questions start being asked. Only then can you beat the rumor mill. Confident transparency is a proactive solution that lets your employees know they are your priority during any transition. —Sasha Rowe, Rivvly
10. Ease into the transition
Although it’s not possible to slow down every aspect of a leadership transition, it is helpful to gently ease into one new change at a time. Give your employees the chance to adjust and also ask them for their feedback. Their feedback can actually help you do a better job. Ease into leadership transitions and give your employees the time to get used to new changes. —Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
11. Explain the “why”
The key to healthy transitions of leadership is to overcommunicate and consistently explain the “why” behind your decisions. We recently went through a lot of leadership changes, and the team was excited because there were no questions as to what was happening or why—instead they were all excited for those being promoted! —Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
12. Define the future
Everyone asks a similar question during times of transition: “What does this mean for me?” Employees want to know how they fit into the objectives of a company’s changing leadership. Address this point upfront. Describe the future and what it looks like. Let them know the company’s mission isn’t changing, and define their new role. This will ease their concerns and excite them for the future. —Jordan Conrad, Writing Explained
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