How many of these articles say “communication is important”? Like, every single team-building blog talks about it. I don’t even see it anymore. “Communication is key” is so overused that my mind doesn’t even register the phrase when I see it, similar to “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”.
How is communication “key”? What’s a real life situation where people may need to be reminded to communicate? Communicating is normally easy. It’s easy when’s there’s something pressing or an emergency. It’s easy when there’s a problem or you want something.
However, communication is often lost during one of the most stressful times in an employee’s career: changes in leadership. This is a time when good communication is crucial to both a smooth transition and your company culture.
We have a ton of examples of how leadership transitions have ruined things a little bit; probably because nearly everyone has experienced one. Below we will walk through leadership change examples, from the employee point of view.
Example 1: Am I On My Own?
Sarah started a job where the person who interviewed, hired, trained, and oversaw her was fired on the fourth day of Sarah working there. No announcement went out. Nothing was shared. No one said anything to her as a new employee. Sarah just saw her former boss, and closest contact at her new job put his coat on and head out.
Oftentimes, the person you interview with is also your potential boss. Managers like to take a direct role in building their team, which is smart- they know what they’re looking for.
When you’re new, you don’t know very many people. Sarah knew 4 people at her new job, and one of them had just left.
Sarah didn’t know what was happening, and the person who knew her schedule, her training, and her short term goals, was gone. With no guidance from the other leaders at the company.
Sarah started to apply for other positions.
People don’t like uncertainty, and a lack of communication creates uncertainty.
Example 2: The Empty Chair
Steve is an Inside Sales Rep, Steve’s manager left the company for another opportunity. This was much more positive- she was headed for greener pastures, but what happened next was not.
Nothing. Nothing at all happened. Her last day came and went and her team all came back next week and… what? The president of the company was said to be the new sales manager in “the interim” but no one could reach him and he was busy with his responsibilities as the company president.
Emails went unanswered. Commission checks for sales weren’t received. Marketing stopped reaching out. Finance stopped communication. The sales block of cubicles became a quiet desert island.
Steve started applying to other jobs. There was no direction or goal or support. Everyone’s output turned way down. A whipped horse runs faster and their team wasn’t moving at all.
It was honestly more stressful and anxiety-inducing than the most fast-paced environments Steve has worked in, and he should have left sooner than he did, and he wasn’t the only one to leave.
Because there was no communication, that company lost all the employees from that department. If you give people nothing to do, some are to sit on Netflix all week and cash a paycheck. To be more specific, the company lost all the motivated employees from that department.
Both of these examples show how a lack of communication during a leadership change can lead to one result – losing employees. Being proactive, have a set transition plan and upfront communication to employees is the best way to protect your team and your company.
Give us a shout if you have anything others could learn from or any questions in your HR needs.