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How to prepare your staff for a new leader

When your perfect manager resigns, will your dream team lose its efficiency, or can you take steps to adjust accordingly?
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You have the perfect team in place—a perfect manager supervising an equally perfect staff. Then fate decides to make things more exciting—your perfect manager resigns, leaving a gaping leadership vacuum in his wake. Is your dream team bound to become a nightmare and lose its efficiency, or can you take steps to adjust accordingly?

 

Ideally, when a key manager leaves the company for whatever reason, you usually replace him with someone from the current staff, who must get priority for promotions. But if your talent bench isn’t deep enough, you find a replacement from the outside. It’s a tough situation because apart from having to ensure that your new manager will adjust to the company’s culture, you also have to assure your current employees that you still believe in their abilities. Here’s the game plan for the business owner who needs to balance these two sides.

 

To your new manager, who will need to step up to the plate ASAP, you must…

  • Give proper orientation. Every company is unique in its rules, regulations, and even office culture. So no matter how many years of experience your new guy has tucked under his belt, he would still have to spend weeks (even months) adjusting to the ins and outs of a new organization. So tell him the vital facts about the company in digestible pieces, but don’t overwhelm him with too much information too soon.
  • Act as mentor or coach. Complement the one-time orientation with sustaining support. Vic Rabelas, Management and Organization Development Manager of Universal Robina Corp., says other key managers should also help guide their new colleague in the organization. Give feedback to sustain the right kind of performance. Proper monitoring will not only prevent failure but will also fast-track the new leader’s development, productivity, and effectiveness.

 

To the staff, who will be most affected by the change, you must…

  • Involve them. Organizational Development Consultant Roz Segovia of E-Telecare emphasizes the value of listening to your staff. Segovia works for a call center, where turnover rate is high. She says that one of the most helpful ways to retain people despite organizational changes is to make them feel that they are an integral part of the company. Make them feel valued and needed. According to Fatima Olaguer, HR Manager of Robinsons Land Corp., “Make sure they are involved in the hiring process, especially if no one in the present team is fit to be promoted.”
  • Be fair and transparent. Carry out a fair process in choosing the man for the job. Start with a list of qualifications and criteria. If a staff member aspired for the job, explain why someone else was hired. Ensure the replacement-candidate that her current post is not a dead-end job. Specify trainings and other plans to fill the gaps that need improvement. Make them realize that bringing in an outsider is the most logical thing to do at this point.
  • Allow the staff to go through the stages of change. Comparable to Kubler-Ross’s Stages of Dying (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), acknowledge that adjustment won’t be automatic. This would enable you to cope with their reactions and respond to them more appropriately.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate! Let the staff know what they can and need to do to move forward. Transition plans can be carried out smoothly if the employees are brought into the process. Sooner or later (preferably sooner), they will realize that the new team leader is not an unwanted force but someone who’s needed to unite the team.

 

Remember: Changing leaders, when effectively managed, provides a positive turning point for the organization. It can be an opportunity to strengthen best practices, improve weaknesses, and peak performance.

 

ORIENTATION STARTS HERE

Vic Rabelas, Management and Organization Development Manager of Universal Robina Corp., lists the steps in a proper orientation:

1. Begin with an overview of the company’s mission and vision statement. This ensures right away that his goals are aligned with yours.

2. Set up meetings with other key personalities in the company to cover duties and responsibilities.

3. Elaborate on the steps that have already been taken and the processes that are already in place. This saves time and clarifies what needs to be done. Discuss what principles have worked in the past against possible approaches the new guy wants to try.

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4. Get your expectations out in the open.

5. If possible, ask your incumbent to stay around long enough to take on this task of training his replacement.

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