Why you should thank your employees more often

July 20, 2015, 7:30 PM UTC

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 Sherlonda Goode-Jones, partner at PwC.

Change within a company can bring opportunity, but it can also evoke fear for team members, clients and leaders. It’s human nature for stakeholders to wonder how life will change—both personally and professionally—when a transition is underway. It is up to the leader to manage the process proactively and communicate clearly throughout. Here’s my best advice:

Be accessible
During times of transition, employees will inevitably have questions. Lots of them. Some are tied to the business, but more often than not they are tied to personal situations and career goals. As a leader, it is important to let your team know you’re there for them. If ever there was a time to maintain an open-door policy, it’s during a period of transition.

Be clear
The leader must articulate a vision—not only for the business, but also for individual roles and responsibilities. Clear direction informs the right questions and it’s the leader’s responsibility, in large part, to make sure the team is asking the right ones.

Be the example
Here’s where the age-old expression actions speak louder than words comes into play. If you’re stepping in to lead a team through change, every action you take must support the vision you’ve articulated. If it doesn’t, you may risk increasing the anxiety your team is looking to you to help settle.

Be willing to celebrate the small stuff
Don’t turn a blind eye to the small wins that happen along the way. A new leader can change the dynamic of a team. People who report to you may now be involved in new projects or have to completely change their work habits. Recognize their efforts and demonstrate the transition is working. I can’t think of one time when someone didn’t appreciate knowing they were on the right path.

Change means different things to different people. For me, it’s filled with excitement and opportunity. For others, it could mean anxiety and uncertainty. Through any transition, it’s best when a team operates on a level playing field. That can only be achieved through communication—through actions, words and presence. Making sure your team is aligned is just as important as achieving the goal is itself.

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

How to manage chaos during a company shakeup by Maren Kate Donovan, CEO of Zirtual.

4 surprising leadership lessons this CEO learned from her horse by Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3.

How to make change in the workplace less daunting by Sarah Watson, chief strategy officer of BBH N.Y.

The one word employees dread hearing in the workplace by Karen Tegan Padir, president of application development at Progress Software.

3 easy ways to manage chaos in the workplace by Angela Dorn, chief legal officer at Single Stop.

Meet the woman who rescued Build-A-Bear Workshop by Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear Workshop.

Managers, this is why you need to send more emails by Liz Wiseman, president of Wiseman Group.

The upsides of change at your company by Barbara Dyer, president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation.

How every boss should tell employees that change is coming by Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn.

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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