The merger took hold and all the departments across four offices became one unit. Leaders of all ranks folded together to create a brand new firm. Disbelief and shock began to trickle down as the employees digested what had just happened to them. The mood was one of uncertainty and confusion, as teams imagined what their place would be in the new entity. They knew it was happening yet the reality of the change had not set in completely.
I began working with one of the teams to sort out how they were coping with the merger. To get a better read on how each of these leaders was feeling I asked them about their “take” on all the recent changes.
“I am so upset about the merger. I loved my old company.”
“I am scared what the future holds.”
“I’m not happy that we have a new organization name.”
“I guess I will ride with it. Who knows.”
It became clear that the merger had made a great impact on each person’s work world. Change is very personal and affects people differently. Even if the change is a positive one, it can bring chaos to the best leaders out there. The critical part of change is that it is constant and the better we get at dealing with it when it arrives, the more resilient we will become.
Six leadership survival techniques when change hits:
1. ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE UPSET
Leaders need to take time to validate their feelings about a merger. Acknowledge what will be changing and what will no longer be. This first step is essential to embracing any change or merger. It’s perfectly normal to be angry if we are asked to say good-bye to a great situation in which we felt comfortable.
2. GATHER ALL AVAILABLE INFORMATION
Getting all the facts about how a change is going to impact our work world is pivotal.
- Learn why the change or merger is taking place
- Ask how the change will affect your department
- See how the change fits into the vision and mission of your organization
- Be clear on the big picture
3. TALK TO A CO-WORKER, BOSS OR FRIEND
When leaders are in a state of flux or uncertainty it can be very helpful to reach out to a trusted person. Just sharing our concerns about the impact on our work lives can be comforting. Additionally our support system can help us brainstorm steps to take to deal with the change so that we are feeling more in control.
4. IDENTIFY CHANGE PHILOSOPHIES TO THINK ABOUT
During a change it is critical to block-out any negative chatter coming into our heads. Leaders need to find positive mantras that can help them overcome any anxiety or fear. Here are a few that may help:
- “Change is part of life.”
- “I have been through worse experiences than this one.”
- “This is a great opportunity.”
- “Just do it!”
- “This too shall pass.”
5. UNDERSTAND YOUR NEW ROLE COMPLETELY
To ensure your success after a change or merger leaders must be clear on their new roles and responsibilities. Don’t assume that your projects and goals will be the same. Leaders need to advocate what they want to focus on and be aware of who will be helping them.
6. HELP OTHERS WHO ARE HAVING DIFFICULTY
Each leader embraces change at different speeds so if you are ready to move forward and a team member needs re-assurance be there for them. Be sensitive to other’s concerns.
- Take the person out to lunch or coffee
- Ask how they are doing
- Offer to help them deal with a concern
- Tell them you are there to be a support
What leadership survival techniques do you use during times of change?