“A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.” – Helen Keller
Change. Is. Hard. In an ever-moving, ever-changing marketplace, It is also inevitable.
As a leader, steering your organization through change could end in victory or mutiny depending on how you guide them through it. Lack of clarity is the Achilles Heel for any change to be implemented successfully, as it confuses and distracts your team. This is why clear (and frequent!) communication with your team is absolutely vital.
Go Back to the Basics
Whether it’s a new initiative or a totally new direction for your organization, introduce it to others by connecting it with your vision. This is something your team should already be familiar and comfortable with. Doing this will also show that the proposed change was not developed on a whim, but by diligent consideration of the company’s values.
For example, our vision at Bright Places is to dismantle unhealthy workplaces. If I decided that our company was going to shift focus and specifically help nonprofit organizations, I might introduce it by saying, “It’s come to my attention that the efficacy of programs and services provided by nonprofit organizations has been heavily affected by inclusion issues within those organizations. Because of the vital support they provide, Bright Places will be focusing its efforts on dismantling the unhealthy environments that are impacting the nonprofit sphere.”
Of course, this is a hypothetical example (we love you, nonprofits!), but by linking a major change with your foundational vision, you give your team the perspective that this shift is only a pruning of your organization and not a complete uprooting.
Set Clear Expectations
It’s also important for leaders to clearly identify and define expectations. One of the first questions your team will have is how their day-to-day work scope will be affected. Using our previous example, I would start by addressing the immediate future – the transition period. I would let my staff know that over the next quarter they will be working closely with their for-profit clients to assess their remaining DEI consulting needs. Once compiled, my staff could expect that I would identify and contact reputable firms they could refer those clients to.
Again, this fabricated example shows that your team should not only know what will be expected of them, but also what they can expect from you. This two-way accountability will put your team at ease by showing that they won’t be bearing the load on their own. As your organization moves through the transition period, update your team on how those expectations are evolving.
Share All the Things
Finally, strive to over-communicate with your staff. That is to say, inform them of every deadline/milestone your company is making along the way, even if you don’t think it directly affects their day-to-day. Whether it be through weekly staff meetings or emails, it is impossible to provide too much information for the sake of providing clarity for your team. It’s only when you’re able to provide true leadership through bends in the road that you and your team will be able to successfully make the turn together.