13 June 2020

5 Practical Ways to Manage and Motivate Employees during Leadership Transitions

HR Success Guide
Author: Liliana Chitnis (Naman HR)

Any organizational change, whether it is technical or hierarchical, can become considerably stressful for employees. And when it comes to leadership transition, it induces a lot of uncertainty and resistance among employees. Will the new leader assemble the right team? Will he/she be a worthy leader? Will he introduce new changes? All of these apprehensions ultimately boil down to one thing: will the leadership change be successful?

Here are 5 tips to make this high-pressure transition successful and to ensure that employees stay motivated and engaged during this leadership change:  

1. Announce the Changes to Eliminate Uncertainty and to Instil Confidence

The best way to ensure that all the employees are aware of, accept, and commit to leadership change is by declaring the policy changes as clearly and honestly as possible. Communication is the key to keeping employees productive and motivated keeping employees productive and motivated through leadership change. So, outline the actions that are needed to implement the changes, so that your employees are well prepared. When people have all the information they need, they can welcome change and grow collectively.

2. Solicit Employee Feedback to Promote Inclusiveness

Address all employee questions as clearly as you can and collect employee feedback. When employees feel that their opinions are valued and acted upon, they become more open to leadership change and also contribute to implementing the ideas proposed during the leadership transition. Also, when employee suggestions are put into action, it reflects that the company cares about its employees and respects their feedback.

3. Communicate the Roles and Responsibilities as Openly and Clearly as Possible

Leadership change also triggers changes in company culture, work environment and employee roles and responsibilities. This creates a lot of stress and insecurity. People start thinking about how this leadership change will affect their job. They want to know if their daily workflow will remain the same or they will take over a new role. And in case new job roles are created, they might also want to pursue those opportunities.

So, one very important thing that leaders need to address here is to clearly define the new roles and responsibilities. This requires the identification of skill gaps and overlaps, in the existing hierarchy. Working with an HR consultant at this stage will ensure that you have a solid change plan and a blueprint to help people sail through the leadership change successfully. 

4. Organize Training Sessions to Foster a Sense of Commitment

Companies that invest in employee training and development programmes convey that they are committed to shaping their employees’ careers. Job-related trainings also hone their professional skills which in turn boost the company’s productivity levels and profits. 

5. Set Performance Improvement Goals to Shift their Focus from Adjustments to Efficiency

Performance improvement goals will help employees shift their focus from the leadership transition to their own professional development. These goals will not only set short-term milestones for the employees, but will also bring them a sense of accomplishment every time they hit their goals. This will add value and meaning to their daily work and keep them motivated to perform.

Every employee goes through the denial phase during the leadership transition. But before the resistance hampers employee engagement levels and lowers employee morale, leaders can make the transition efficient by using the tips mentioned above. Anticipating change and having a plan in place will help leaders to deal with employee distractions effectively and shift their focus towards productive tasks, paving the way for better business outcomes.

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