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Top Tips To Guide Your Leaders And Team Through Leadership Change

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Top Tips To Guide Your Leaders And Team Through Leadership Change

The year 2023 saw leadership change in several large organisations. According to a recent media article citing Bloomberg data, as many as 47 companies from the BSE 500 index saw the appointment of new CEOs since the beginning of 2023. These include large corporations like TCS and Hindustan Unilever among others. In most cases, it can be safely assumed that the basic goal is to effect fundamental changes in the way the business is conducted and make it work in the current work environment.

Whenever there is a leadership change in any type of organisation, the transition period often creates uncertainty and instability, leading to disruptions in day-to-day operations. Employees may feel unsettled, leading to decreased productivity and morale. Employees may resist changes introduced by new leadership, especially if they perceive them as disruptive.

Moreover, leadership change can raise concerns among investors, clients, and other stakeholders about the organisation’s stability and prospects. The leadership must therefore work towards making the transition as smooth as possible, and the team should also rise to ensure the larger goal, which is to ensure the business runs profitably and smoothly.

Here are six ways to ensure both the leadership and the team make the transition without any roadblocks and hiccups.

From The Leadership Perspective:

A) Clear Communication:

Change isn’t always easy, but keeping employees involved, informed and empowered throughout the process makes a big difference in both the employee experience and the outcome of leadership change. Ensure transparent communication about the impending leadership change to all stakeholders, including employees, clients, and investors. This helps manage expectations and minimises uncertainty.

Employees feel reassured and are quicker to get on board when you paint a clear picture of exactly what’s going to happen and when. If you have to use a step-by-step list, do it. If your employees respond well to infographics, use them. Make sure to set expectations by explaining the process so people can see the road ahead.

B) Succession Planning:

Succession planning ensures that businesses continue to run smoothly and without interruption, after important people move on to new opportunities or retire. Businesses may want to create more than one type of succession plan. An emergency succession plan is put in place when a key leader needs to be replaced unexpectedly. A long-term succession plan, on the other hand, helps the company account for anticipated leadership change.

The organisation must develop a comprehensive succession plan that identifies potential leaders within the system and outlines a smooth transition process. More importantly, It is necessary to communicate this to the employees. Putting it in place includes assessing internal talent, providing necessary training and development, and ensuring a seamless handover of responsibilities.

C) Cultural Alignment:

Organisations, while appointing new leadership, need to factor in both competence and cultural fitment as an active selection process cutting across job scopes and genres of the employee. Not only does this promote continuity and stability during the transition period but also increases employee satisfaction, productivity, & retention rates.

By investing in cultural alignment, organisations can create a culture of excellence that empowers employees and drives growth, setting them apart as leaders in their industries.

D) Stakeholder Engagement:

Involve the key stakeholders, such as board members, senior executives, and employees, in the transition process. Solicit their input, address concerns, and garner support for the new leadership.

The first step to effective stakeholder engagement is to identify and segment your stakeholder groups according to their level of interest and influence in the leadership transition. Explain what you want to achieve and why it matters, share relevant information regularly, acknowledge contributions and perspectives of different stakeholder groups, and emphasise the benefits of the leadership transition. Doing so will motivate stakeholders to support and participate in the leadership change process. You can use emails, newsletters, meetings, presentations, webinars, podcasts, or social media to get your message across.

E) Change Management:

For many employees, hearing of coming change implies negative outcomes: the loss of a job; a new manager; a restructured team; company-wide layoffs; or reduced pay or benefits. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to set the tone for your team and prepare yourself for managing organisational change as effectively as possible, helping employees understand and navigate this change as best you can.

This is no easy task, especially when you might not have all the necessary information or have mixed feelings about the changes the organisation is facing. Implement robust change management strategies to facilitate a smooth transition and mitigate resistance to leadership change. This may involve providing support to employees, addressing concerns, and managing expectations throughout the transition period.

F) Continuity Planning:

Develop a contingency plan to address any potential disruptions that may arise during the leadership change. This includes identifying key risks and implementing measures to overcome them, ensuring business continuity and stability. Employees that are identified with long-term potential for growth, must be provided with learning and growth opportunities that will help them prepare for the critical roles.

A variety of tools and methods such as coaching, mentoring, training, job rotation, project assignments, action learning, and feedback can be used. The goal is to create a personalised and comprehensive development plan for each leader, and to monitor and evaluate their progress and performance. You also need to support your leaders, and to provide them with the resources, guidance, recognition, and feedback that will help them succeed in their current and future roles.

From The Employee Perspective:

A) Focus on the constants: 

Change is the number 1 fear factor for employees. Constants like an organisation’s philosophy and values are typically enduring. They’re what consumers and the general public expect. Think of slogans that have been tied to a company for decades. Your organisation’s constants help you guide employees during leadership change when addressing the team about business values.  Bring up concerns about potential changes in the organisational direction, and use the information gained to prepare them for change.


B) Help employees understand the purpose and benefits of the change:

Regardless of how much one prepares a team, the change will be imminent, and it does ruffle feathers. So guiding employees through the coming weeks and months will have to be a priority. One needs to explain why the change is necessary, what are the goals and outcomes, and how the change will benefit the organisation and the employees. One way to do this is to ensure that workplace requirements are kept simple and apply to everybody. Keeping calm and collected is essential – as tempers can flare, and the situation is ripe for misunderstanding and miscommunication. 

C) Give employees time and space to voice concerns: 

One of the most important steps to influence organisational change is to communicate the vision and the benefits of the change to employees. One needs to be transparent and honest about the challenges and risks involved and have a plan in place to overcome them. Communication should be clear, consistent, and frequent, using different channels and formats to reach different audiences and preferences. And we can never say enough of this – keep the lines of communication open. Create mechanisms for employees to have a say and follow up by taking action based on what you hear.

D) Invest in employees through training and expanding roles: 

Employees want to know that their work positively impacts the world and their personal lives. Employee engagement is a sense of purpose at work that creates extra energy and commitment. It’s clear that employee engagement and well-being are connected — and we know that research shows engaged employees mean better business results. 

Be thoughtful about the actual design of an employee’s job — If employees indicate they’re bored or not challenged, re-engage them by redesigning their roles. When you empower employees to step up, make their own decisions and pave their own path to success, you create a better workplace culture. Encourage managers to talk to employees about how they contribute to the overall mission of the company.

E) Express gratitude for their presence and performance: 

Employee gratitude is a powerful yet often overlooked way to drive employee engagement.  When you express gratitude towards employees, you show them you value their ideas and their contributions to your organisation. Appreciation does not always have to be verbal. In fact, action-oriented ways are more impactful. Recognising achievements, offering flexibility, celebrating milestones, and offering perks and incentives are some ways to show appreciation. 

Employees don’t need additional reasons for leaving a job. By showing employee appreciation whenever you can, you’ll encourage a culture of kindness and ensure that your people feel a shared sense of inclusion and belonging. In turn, you’ll improve the employee experience and protect your company from high turnover rates. 

Leadership is about taking the initiative to do the things others would rather avoid doing – and about allowing risk to be your best friend. Leaders make those around them better by being wise enough to anticipate the unexpected and by being accountable to take action all the way through to the end. They know how to help their teams tackle change head-on and remove the fear factor from their minds. They do this by creating environments that embrace clarity around the issues, collaboration to produce new ideas and strategic focus. They build solid ecosystems where thinking courageously and challenging the old ways of doing things create a competitive advantage. So don’t attempt to rush employees through leadership change. Instead, lead them through it. This will keep your employees from becoming stuck in a world of anxiety, and help them move forward with energy and productivity.

Just like small ants working in colonies who accomplish things far beyond the capacity of any single individual, organisations and employees that have a thoughtful alignment within their values and goals, can achieve remarkable results through coordinated effort.

At Yellow Spark, we can guide you through leadership and organisational change. To know more write to us at contact@yellowspark.in

Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.