How to Introduce a Change of Leadership to Staff
Nobody likes change except a wet baby. When you bring a new leader to your team, your staff may worry about how much their jobs will change and how it will be to work with the new person. Good onboarding will smooth the transition, but it takes more than a letter to employees about a change in management.
If new leadership shows up out of the blue with no warning, your team is going to be shocked. Good onboarding lays the groundwork before the new manager assumes the helm. If your company is small, you may want to notify everyone. If it's large, focus on the team or department that is under the new hire.
A simple email will do the trick. You can find a leadership change announcement email example online and duplicate it or just write it yourself. The email should include the new leader's name, start date, position, professional background and some fun personal details.
Eventually, the new leader will have to meet with the team in person. If you can arrange for this to happen before the job starts, that's also a plus.
Meeting a ton of new people won't be easy for your new leader either. He hardly knows anything about who the good employees are, where the break room is, what the office environment is like and how to access the time cards, for instance. Start mentoring your new leader well before he's on the job, filling him in on key information like:
- Organizational charts.
- A list of his employees.
- The budget process.
- Strategic initiatives.
- Administrative processes.
- Key stakeholders.
- Customers with whom he'll be dealing.
- A copy of the employee handbook.
- Some background on the team, such as the valuable players and who might be a problem.
Making it clear to your new hire what his role is and the goals you want him to meet will also help when he meets his team. "I'm here to implement a Six Sigma program and see that our customers get zero-defect products" says more than "I'm your new manager." You can put that information into your letter to employees about the change in management, but they'll still appreciate hearing it from the new manager.
After you've sent your letter, whether you write it yourself or use a change of leadership letter template, make the effort to meet employees in person. You can answer their questions in one group session or meet privately if they prefer.
- Ask if they have any reservations about the transition.
- Explain the reasons for making the change.
- Reassure good employees that their job is secure.
- If you have an employee who was interested in the management slot, explain why you went with someone from outside the company instead.
Employees often quit after a change in leadership. Taking the time to talk with them can save you the cost of hiring and training new people.
Sometime after you send your letter to employees about a change in management comes the in-person introduction. Ideally, this happens before the manager starts working, though that's not always possible. A standard method is to schedule a meeting for the manager to make a presentation and introduce herself. Alternatively, you could arrange a happy hour where the leader and her team can meet in a more relaxed atmosphere.
One useful tactic is to solicit information from team members ahead of time:
- What does the new leader need to know about the team?
- How can the leader help the team succeed?
- What are the biggest challenges the team faces?
- What does the team expect from the new leader?
- How much contact and guidance does the leader need or expect?
Collect and combine the answers and give them to your new hire. That way, she'll have something substantial to discuss when she meets the team.