Response to change

When organizations start to change, the middle manager has a difficult role.  The middle manager in this situation is defined as anyone who is not responsible for causing the change and has direct reports.  When “organizational changes” are announced the most immediate impact is a loss of productivity of your team due to the hallway gossip and second-guessing of the situation.  

Your job is to stay this loss of productivity and get your team (and yourself) back to the work that matters.  Two factors matter:  Trust and role modeling.  

In talking with your team, share how you feel.  Here, you need to be honest with what you know (usually as little as they do), how you feel about the change, perhaps share your experience with similar situations in the past, and finally share how it makes you feel.  This is followed up immediately with, and this is how I am going to behave as a result (something like–stay focused on what I was doing yesterday before the changes were announced).  

[Aside:  I indicate that you need to be honest–and this is true, but you need to decide what you are going to say.  If you are going to badmouth upper management’s decisions “because it’s true”, be prepared for the ramifications.  You should look to your boss for more information to be sure you have all your facts before you decide to lead the mutiny.  It’s not honest to tell uninformed statements as facts.]  

Follow this with a parallel recognition of how they probably feel and a recommendation on how they should behave (something like–stay focused on what you were doing yesterday before the changes were announced).  

The willingness to share your own vulnerability in times of change builds trust.  The strength to focus during times of change provides a role model for employees to follow.  

Jonathan Shaver