As important as it is to track the latest marketing trends and small biz tactics, there’s something organizations of every size and shape go through at some point: a leadership transition.
How your team navigates such a change can make or break your short-term success, alter your long-term outcomes, and set the tone at the office for years to come.
In the moment, it can feel like sailing stormy seas (unpredictable, challenging, and sometimes downright scary), but with the right mindset, we promise there’s respite on the other side!
Whether you know one is coming or want to be prepared for any surprises, here are some tips from iProv partners on Navigating Uncertainties During Leadership Transitions:
After scouring the web for valuable insights, the #1 theme we kept coming across was clear and honest communication. This was highlighted especially well in this Entrepreneur article, which emphasized the importance of creating open lines of communication from the get-go.
The minute a change is set into motion, it’s critical for leaders to get ahead of the gossip and provide a forum for dialogue. Throughout the transition, this channel should remain open and active, even if you’re the only one using it – the last thing you want is for people to take the chatter into their own hands.
While communicating with employees, it’s also important to address any potential uncertainties the departure might stir up. You don’t want to be the boss who ignores the elephant in the room – the better you are at acknowledging the realities of your teams’ situations, the less room you leave for potential resistance of skepticism.
Well Established Transition Plans
Another way to get ahead of panic and skepticism is to offer up a well-thought-out transition plan as soon as you can. Don’t rush to present something half-hearted, but the sooner your employees have a solid plan in place, the faster they can move on. This Business.com article further explains the importance of a tangible strategy to minimize disruption.
Addressing the Emotional Component with Authenticity
However, you don’t want to be so calculated with your planning and communication that you lose the human element. Talking openly about the emotional aspects of a transition is just as important as the logistical ones. Losing a leader goes beyond business – they’re a person that your people have potentially spent 5 days per week with for years, or even decades.
In short, allow yourself and your people to be humans about it. Check out this article from Wharton on the power of vulnerability during uncertainty, and read this HuffPost piece to learn more about the emotions at play in your workplace.
Generational and Gender Differences
With millennials making up more of the workforce, it’s important for leaders to understand the challenges unique to this generation. It is true that millennials job hop a lot more than their predecessors (6 in 10 report being open to new job opportunities at any given moment), which means you’ll either need to get used to more frequent departures, or put in extra effort to retain them. Check out the above article from Gallop for insight into keeping them around for longer!
If you’re a woman leader, it’s also worth noting that your experience of navigating leadership changes might be different than your male colleagues. In the article "8 Factors to Help Female Leaders Manage Through Uncertainty" on LinkedIn, the author highlights key factors that can assist female leaders in managing these periods:
- Building a strong support network
- Embracing change and being adaptable
- Cultivating self-confidence
- Leveraging emotional intelligence
- Practicing effective communication
- Seeking out mentorship and sponsorship opportunities
- Investing in continuous learning
- Advocating for diversity and inclusion
Looking for the Positive
Finally, if your organization is in need of some growth and realignment, the chaos of a departure could be your opportunity to shake things up for the better. A few positive changes could include:
- Fresh perspective: the new leader can share a different vision for the company’s future and a unique approach to achieving it
- Strategic shifts: now is a good time to reassess your strategic direction and introduce necessary adjustments
- Organizational culture: the new leader may prioritize different values with better outcomes
- Skill enhancement: the new leader might be able to identify skill gaps and take steps to address them
- Operational efficiency: if there are inefficiencies and workflows that need to be streamlined, the new leader can strive to fill those gaps
- Stakeholder engagement: if you need to strengthen your relationship with key stakeholders (customers, suppliers, investors, and partners), the new leader might be able to initiate that dialogue
- Organization alignment: this could be a great time to clarify roles and responsibilities and realign teams toward common objectives
If you want to take the opportunity to grow personally during this period, check out these 7 transitions good leaders must make from IMD.
Leadership transitions can be nerve-wracking for everyone involved, and sometimes, even taking every precaution doesn’t quite fill the gap. Hopefully, this covers what you need during a challenging period, but if you also need extra marketing support, we’re here to help!