In many organizations, news of a change in leadership can be taken poorly. Sometimes there’s a lot of anxiety or confusion around the change. This is often compounded by the communication method used to tell employees about the change in leadership.
How many times have you received an email about major company news? Even worse, how many times have you heard about the change through the rumor mill before any internal memo is sent out?
Company culture is important to any thriving business and is often one of the leading reasons a person stays with the company. Maintaining that company culture during a major shift in the leadership team takes careful planning, patience, and an obsession with communication throughout the transition.
The next time your leadership team shifts keeping these key steps in mind will help your employees, and even your clients, remain at ease.
Hire Leaders and Employees for based on your Core Values
It takes skill to deliver on customer goals, deadlines, and innovative solutions to client problems. All of that work is made easier when the team fits together in a healthy culture. The person with the right skills that lacks a culture fit is likely to not only make working together more difficult, but also drive down the quality of the final product or service delivered to your clients.
One way to ensure company culture fit is to make sure new team members coming in are aligned to your company’s core values. The core values can’t just be words though. The company must promote and live by those core values each and every day. This includes anyone from leadership through to interns. If your new leaders don’t match your company values, they could start progressing towards the wrong goals. As part of the hiring process at 3 Media Web, we ask applicants about their core values directly, look for examples of our own core values in them, and make sure that the applicant is someone we’d want to work with for the long term, not just someone that can do the job.
Get Your Team In the Know as Early as Possible
Nobody likes to get blind-sided by big news, especially when it affects their daily lives. We devote so much of our time and energy to our careers, and when decisions are made that impact them, we like to be kept in the loop. As soon as it’s possible to do so, let your team in on the news of a change in leadership.
Make sure to communicate the change internally before announcing it to the world. Discovering that kind of news on your Facebook feed can sting if you had no idea it was coming. When Marc Avila, the founder of 3 Media Web decided to hand the reins over to new CEO Jessica Hennessey in the summer of 2021, the internal team was told months in advance of the public announcement. Many were told in 1:1 meetings, and the entire team had multiple discussions together and ask-me-anything segments during all hand meetings. Then when the transition happened publicly it was old news, and everyone on the team was comfortable.
Introduce Employees to the New Leaders to Build Familiarity
One benefit of the 3 Media Web CEO transition was that the team knew Jess after working with her for a couple of years as Vice President of Growth & Strategy. Elevating your current team members to leadership roles can be much healthier for company culture than hiring an outsider to come in and take over the team.
That’s not always possible, of course. Many times external resources are exactly what is needed to help a company succeed. Before new leaders take over for the old team, set a clear transition plan for them to get to know the staff, understand your workflows, and align themselves to the company. Be sure to share the plan with all of the key employees. When everyone understands the timeline, they can help to make it as smooth as possible. It also means their questions and apprehensions can be addressed well before the final switch takes place.
Keep Your Team Together During Transitional Times
Nobody wants to find out about a major shift in a company’s leadership team second hand or even through an impersonal email. The method of communication from the leadership team, both old and new, should be thoughtful and personal to help employees feel comfortable.
New leadership can cause anxiety or confusion, especially if the new leaders aren’t familiar to the team. To maintain your company culture, let your employees in on the news as soon as possible, talk openly about the reasons behind the shift, and communicate how it will affect them. Use careful planning and patience to take your team through this transitional time so you can come out the other side ready to get back to business. Your employees will both feel better about it and a happy company is easier to lead.
This post was written by 3 Media Web.