Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn
Courtesy of Ruder Finn, Inc.
By Kathy Bloomgarden
July 1, 2015

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you lead a team during a time of transition? is written by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

With so many industries experiencing transitions — from changing business models, to operational spinouts and acquisitions, to new customer engagement models and portfolio changes — we are in a period of constant and accelerated change. This means that most individuals, regardless of their level of experience or size of the business in which they belong, all will experience the uncertainty and emotional tensions that come with navigating through transitions.

In this environment, engaging your workforce is critical to success. Here are three ways to lead during times of change:

Focus on the mission
Change brings negative feelings. It makes us uncomfortable and anxious about the future. It’s easy to get caught up in this, but as leaders, we must focus on the positive and build momentum for a brighter future. Shift the team’s vision forward and give them a reason to believe. What do we stand for, what greater purpose are we serving, and how can we achieve our mission as a unit? Make it personal and use your mission as an opportunity to bring people together. If you can keep the team focused on your guiding principles and your overall goal, then you can create a positive, upward force that is truly unstoppable.

Collaborate and communicate relentlessly
Consensus building and creating opportunities for employee involvement is a key part of fostering an engaged workforce, especially during times of transition. Forging social connections and providing a constant stream of communication to involve employees throughout the process, even when the details and facts are still not known, is core to culture in business. Collaboration can help foster strong employee partnerships, innovation, and fresh thinking across teams.

Be the rallying force
Be the inspiring energy that ignites change. It is not only critical to recognize and reward individuals who embody your organization, but to push teams to strive for growth and success, even those who are met by failure. Encourage experimentation and reward those who think beyond the status quo. Celebrate successes and encourage teams to learn from failures. It will humanize the work experience in a meaningful way that inspires people to do their best.

The Chinese character for crisis includes both danger and opportunity. Transitions put people and a company at a crossroad, so by building a strong and highly engaged team, you will take the company to the next level.

Being a real, genuine leader, helping the team and individuals to be aspirational, and looking ahead will create a strong team that can move quickly forward and capture transitions in a way that allows you to build an even stronger and more dynamic business for the future.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you lead a team during a time of transition?

3 ways to embrace change at your company by Kathy Collins, CMO of H&R Block.

A good boss never leaves their employees in the dark by Sandi Peterson, group worldwide chairman of Johnson & Johnson.

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