In times of change – what is the role of the leader?

It is often during times of change that leaders are busy doing the doing. Whether that be closing the deal, liaising with external stakeholders or managing the integration, the sale or the divestment.  It is considered that the doing, the strategy, the outward facing “stuff” is the domain and the role of the leader during times of change.

What do employees want from their leaders during times of change?

During these periods the employees sometimes get forgotten.

Either because the leader assumes someone else is dealing with them – or they are just not a priority when it comes to all the other “important” things that need to be done.

This creates a false economy though.

Almost always – there is more time spent fixing the issues that arise from the water cooler chat.

And remember, that in the absence of information, people fill the void – usually with misinformation.

The research is crystal clear on the role of the leader during times of change.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Even if there is no information to communicate – communicate that there is no information.

What do employees want to know from their leaders?

Again the research is very clear. Employees want to know big picture – how this fits with the ongoing business strategy from the most senior of leaders.

They want to know about how the change will impact them on a day to day basis from their more immediate of bosses. These are some of the questions to answer:

  • What is changing and what is staying the same?
  • How does the change impact on my role and the roles that I interact with?
  • Key dates and milestone activity?
  • What is the communication and consultation process from here?

The communication process doesn’t need to be onerous. It doesn’t need to involve large town halls and full on presentations (although of course there is a place for those). It just needs to be regular, on message and provide employees the information they need.

For example:

  • Send a quick video or voice message that is sent to employee’s mobile phones or email addresses.
  • Have a five minute catch up over morning tea in the lunchroom.
  • Do a walk around with the production supervisor and spend a few minutes with each group.
  • Join the morning toolbox sessions.
  • If you really really have to – send an email!

This is really one of those cases where a tiny bit of effort yields enormous results.  Try it out with some change happening at your place, and observe the demonstrable impact.

Want More?

If you’re still hungry for more on change you can find my leadership book here which includes great resources on leading through change and communicating well.

And, if you would like to discuss how I could help you look at your leadership during times of change get in touch.

Until next week, happy leading.

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