How to prevent a culture change from becoming a culture SHOCK
You are the Director of Human Resources and it’s a typical Monday morning-(traffic, coffee, check emails), and then you are summoned to a meeting with your boss (the CEO). You sense something is wrong and you begin to do a mental inventory to determine if you missed something that would have caused the boss to call an unannounced Monday morning meeting. When you arrive you are met with a room full of people with the same perplexed look on their faces as you- now you know something major is going on and are growing concerned regarding what is about to happen. Your boss announces that she is leaving the organization and the “second-in-command” is charge…effective immediately! Your boss is highly regarded and is viewed as a caring leader towards the employees. The culture has been very relaxed; inclusive with open communication at all levels of the organization-except with the COO. Some long-term employees have stated that it has been a pleasure to come to work under her leadership and for the first time they have really felt a part of the organization. The COO is the second-in- command and has a very different style. He has a reputation for being a bit of a “bully” and very confrontational. People tend to avoid him for fear of being criticized and disciplined if they go against his wishes. Now that he is the new CEO there is a fear that anyone that is on his “list” will be let go soon. The COO views himself as a good manager with strong leadership skills. He frequently reminds the staff that his decisions are based on what’s in the “best interest” of the company-- not what’s popular with the staff. After the meeting, you get several requests for meetings to discuss employee concerns about the change in leadership and what this all means for the organization. As you adjust to the news, how will you help to navigate the organization and stabilize concerns?
In your role you are viewed as the “stabilizer” in the organization and you must help others begin to embrace the new organizational structure. Some conversations will be unpleasant and difficult and others will involve simple clarification in order to move forward. Utilizing the MGD© process (Meet, Greet, & Defeat) will aid you in helping employees to handle unpleasant, confusing and difficult situations in a productive and positive manner;
Meet (identify the issue)
Help the employee understand why the change is a problem for them
Probe to determine if they have ever been through a change in leadership
Discuss how they have previously handled a change in leadership
Greet (ownership of feelings)
Allow voice space for employees to express how they are feeling about the change
Ask them to clarify what they would like to see in the new leadership
Ask them how they would like to proceed (some may choose to exit the organization)
Defeat (de-escalation and right coursing)
Coach the employee on how they may begin to adapt to the change in a positive manner
Remind them that it is okay to acknowledge and own their feelings
Provide guidelines for properly channeling their feelings (calm discussions, asking clarifying questions)
Once you have attained employee feedback it is critical that you present solutions to your new boss that are positive for the organization and are in line with company goals and objectives. For example, stating that employees are interested and willing to continue to pursue new ideas to grow the business by 25% over the next fiscal year and would like to continue the employee feedback committee are tangible deliverables that the CEO can attach value to for the company and would be willing to continue. Being able to effectively communicate at all levels of the organization in ways that share a consistent message and in a manner that is easily understood by the recipients (no matter what level/rank within the organization) will aid in you becoming a strategic partner with your new boss as well as maintaining a trusted culture that your employees desire to have.
If you would like more information on this topic, please contact us for further information.
Tina R. Macon, President/Senior Consultant
AllMac & Associates
"Connecting People, Processes, and Productivity"