Most workplaces operate like delicate ecosystems; functional teams are made up individuals with complex relationships and established interpersonal patterns that serve and reinforce a specific status quo. When conflict arises and things go off the rails, your teams probably step into their familiar roles—peacemaker, problem solver, devil’s advocate, cheerleader—in order to push things back on track. When one member tips the system too far in one direction, another steps into reverse and stabilize it before it goes off course. Actions have reactions, friends support each other, plans fall apart, and everyone works together to keep things moving in a steady forward direction.
But what happens when the ecosystem changes? When new employees are introduced into the mix, for example, or when beloved team members suddenly leave the group for good? When big changes happen, do you find your feet quickly? Or do you collectively wallow through a period of low productivity and reshuffling before order is reestablished? Here are a few ways to minimize the impact of change on the success of your group.
Provide notice and warnings.
When a key employee gives notice, or when you decide to hire a new employee or bring on temporary staff, don’t ambush your current teams. Give them as much warning as possible. Even if they don’t seem to care or don’t believe this change will impact them very much, keep offering reminders as the day approaches. Be clear about why the change is happening and what will be expected of each current staff member.
Keep things positive.
Change can be upsetting and scary, but it can also be exciting and interesting. New people can be a drag, but they can also represent potential new friends or allies, and they bring interesting new stories and experiences to the group that can refresh existing worldviews. Emphasize the positive. Get your current teams excited about the new person. Share some key details regarding the person’s background and interests.
Long before the new person arrives or the departing one leaves, adjust your infrastructure to accommodate the change. Never leave a new employee standing idly in the hallway while you prepare a desk for them, and never drop a departing employee’s projects and responsibilities on a current team member without providing the tools required to handle these tasks. Everybody should have the basic equipment, space, and support they need in order to navigate the change, and they should have these things long before the change takes place.
For more on how to keep your teams from missing a beat during an awkward staff transition, reach out to the hiring and management experts at Merritt Staffing.