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 Stacia Pierce, CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises.
Change is inevitable. As our economy continues to shift, so does the way we do business. Sometimes that can mean downsizing, restructuring or even shifting into something new altogether. While transitioning can make a company vulnerable, there are key principles that will ensure a smooth process and set a solid foundation to make the company stronger in the end:
Give them vision
Bring your team together and share your endgame results with them. Show and tell of how this transition is not only for the betterment of the company, but for their good as well. While vision-casting, be sure to give a picture of what’s possible. When we transitioned our team from one state to another, we spent a great deal of time showing the benefits of being in a larger market, which included a cheaper cost of living, better school systems, more opportunities and great weather. By sharing with the team the big-picture goals and benefits, we were able to get them excited about looking to a new adventure.
Engage in painstakingly detailed planning
When undergoing a big change that affects a lot of people, it’s important to have a meticulous plan in place. The entire team will have questions. Anticipate these questions and have the answers before they arise. As the leader, it’s important to be well prepared with every step of the transition, from phasing out the old to setting up the new. We met with our team weekly during the transition and discussed everything from housing options and resources to job security and pay. Having this assurance made it easy for everyone to stay motivated and follow through.
Sure up positions
During transitions, nothing stays the same. Our team got smaller and the workload increased, so we needed to regroup and reassign responsibilities. It was important to clarify roles so that everyone could confidently carry out their assignments. It also eliminated a lot of confusion and missed opportunities.
Transitions are stressful for everyone. It’s natural to worry during this time, but it’s important that you encourage your team to stay positive during change. One of the ways we kept our team on the same page and with the right perspective was by using a company affirmation. We’d say it together in the morning, and the more we said it, the more confident and cohesive we became as everything around us shifted daily.
Stay connected with frequent communication
Communicate often and answer your team’s questions directly to quench rumors that can threaten morale. Not only did we have group meetings, but we also called each of our team members and discussed their significant challenges, which helped them transition smoothly. We stayed very hands-on throughout the process to provide assurance and support for everyone.
One of the major changes our company experienced was utilizing remote offices after operating as a brick and mortar. With the majority of our team working remotely, the dynamics of our workday changed dramatically. So we used Skype for video meetings, digitized all of our important files and put them in cloud storage, and switched to Box.com as our remote server. These applications enabled us to work seamlessly while apart. To stay productive, we implemented accountability measures and planned meeting times to work on projects together.
It is still very important that we come together periodically to stay cohesive and on the same page. To keep our team unified, we host company meals, parties and trips where we are able to spend time together and bond.
The team’s intimate and active participation during the company transition kept everyone focused during the highs and lows of the process. We are now thriving in ways that we hadn’t before and our team often expresses how glad they are to have made the move with us.
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