“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.”
This quote was a good reminder to me that leaders have to set the tone no matter what is going on in the organization. Change is a constant and leaders are getting new information to process all the time. They need to discern if it is something to act on, share with their team, communicate to the rest of the organization or keep it to themselves. I would like to focus on the last example here of when leaders need to keep information to themselves.
I have always felt that the middle management leaders in an organization have the toughest role. They need to maintain a sense of calm when the organization is going through a lot of change, a merger, a large business or systems implementation, etc. Their team and the rest of the organization will be looking to them to gauge how things are going. This is not just some of the time. It is all the time. If you are upset, angry, frustrated, etc. your team will pick up on that and react accordingly. They will jump to conclusions and make assumptions that management isn’t sharing something with them. This is how rumors get started and will quickly get blown out of proportion for no reason.
So what is a leader to do? Many people will choose to ignore the elephant in the room in these types of situations. Don’t ignore it. Start a conversation about where people are in the change curve, what are they hearing and what questions do they have? People usually just want to talk about it and know that someone is listening to them. That someone has to be you. Listen to the concerns that your team has and let them vent to get it off their chest. Tell them that you will share what you know when you can. When you are able to share more, be as honest and forthright as you can.
Recognize that you are going through the change too. In order for you to be able to manage this change well, you need to look at how you are dealing with it as well. Have a discussion with a peer that you can trust so you can share your own concerns about the situation off-line and behind closed doors. Your manager may be in the same boat as you are in terms of what they can share with you. Share with your management what you are hearing from your team and what questions you are getting. It is always better to over-communicate in times of change, but that isn’t always possible. Respect that everyone is going through this change and doing the best they can to navigate what may be unchartered territory.
Is this a situation that you are dealing with at work? If you would like to get some help dealing with this type of change or any other issues you are facing, please reach out to me and set up a complimentary coaching session: http://susanmbarber.com/schedule-an-appointment/