The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

221: Surviving Leadership Transitions: Strategies for Navigating Change in the Workplace

February 06, 2024 John Neral Season 4
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
221: Surviving Leadership Transitions: Strategies for Navigating Change in the Workplace
Show Notes Transcript

Ever found yourself reeling from the shockwave of a leadership shift at your workplace? That's exactly what happened to me when a mentor and respected leader I had eagerly joined an organization to work with departed just three months into my tenure. It's a tumultuous experience, but I've turned my personal story of navigating these choppy waters into actionable advice for you. In this episode, I'll walk you through five crucial strategies to help you stay afloat and confident amidst the currents of change, ensuring you continue to chart a course toward a satisfying and successful career.

We'll discuss the imperative of keeping communication channels wide open and how to proactively build relationships with incoming leaders, seizing the growth opportunities that change inevitably brings. Listen as I share insights on fostering team cohesion and maintaining a positive outlook even when transitions feel chaotic. It's all about finding your footing again, and I'm here to guide you through it, step by step. So tune in for an episode packed with practical guidance that will not just help you manage but thrive through the leadership changes in your organization.

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John Neral:

Have you ever had a favorite leader leave your organization? It's kind of like losing a dear friend. You may have gone to a particular organization because you were excited to work with them and then, for whatever circumstance, they leave and you're the one left behind. It's not an easy time and you have every right to be angry and upset and grieve over the fact that the one you wanna work with and for is no longer there. Change is hard. That's why, in this episode, I've got a few tips for you to help you show up and manage that leadership shift and change that's beyond your control as you build your mid-career GPS. Let's get started. Hello, my friends. This is the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. I'm your Jo hn Neral. I help mid-career professionals find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. Now, in my last solo episode, which was episode 219, I shared with you a story about how I looked for growth opportunities in a job that I loved while I was waiting to accept a position at my next advancement opportunity. Well, one of the things I didn't share in that episode was that another reason why I was so excited to go work in that organization was because of the woman I was going to be working for. Cheryl was a leader in her field and still is An absolute rock star, phenomenal leader. I had researched and followed her and was just so excited to have the opportunity not just to work for her but to work with her and learn from her. And three months after I started that position, she left, and I remember feeling so heartbroken and disappointed and, admittedly, really selfish right, because at that point it was all about me. I was like, oh, who am I gonna work with? Am I gonna like them as much? What's gonna happen? I had never really experienced that kind of quick shift in my leadership before in my career, and so there were some lessons I've learned from that experience, and it's lessons that I coach my clients on as well as they navigate some of their leadership shifts and changes. So I've got five tips to help you navigate this change, and tip number one is to keep the lines of communication open. It is so important that during this time, everybody is engaging in open and transparent communication. During this transition, obviously, you're going to share more with people you trust, but it is important to understand, especially when this new leader comes on board and you're getting to know them there might be feeling a little awkward too, and so they also may not be well versed in having these kinds of conversations or setting ground rules about what your work will look like. Therefore, I wanna offer you this is an opportunity for you to take command of the situation and be more proactive in how you build that relationship. Yes, there is a dynamic that they have some type of supervisory authority, and they may be the one who is directly managing and writing your performance appraisals and all those kinds of things, but that doesn't mean or overlook the fact that you can take command of that situation and grow it. Now, tip number two is embrace change. As difficult as it is, change happens. It's the one constant we know, and so it is okay, while embracing the change, to be prepared that this shift is going to be messy. I remember working in another organization where my role shifted internally and one of my direct reports pulled me aside at the end of the day to tell me how unhappy they were that this was happening and initially said You're only doing this for you. I said whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. Yes, this is an opportunity for me, but in this organizational change, there is an opportunity for me and the organization to do larger work that's going to ultimately benefit more people. And so when I looked at that and I looked at it from the pros and cons of myself as well as the pros and cons of the organization this seemed like the best move. Embracing change can be difficult for people. We don't really know how change has affected them in their lives. So it's important during this time, even though it can be a little bit messy to highlight the opportunities that can come from change. Where do you all get to grow because of it? And, as you're embracing that change, be realistic but focus on being positive. Tip number three is about fostering team cohesion. It is safe to say that team dynamics dramatically shift when a leader leaves I should say when a beloved leader leaves. It can be very difficult for that person coming in and having to fill that person's shoes and you may have had that experience happen to you where you've been the new leader coming in and being like, oh boy, how's this gonna go? Okay, find ways to emphasize the need for team cohesion and collaboration during those transitions. Now, depending on where you sit in terms of how you feel about team building activities and strengthening relationships and such. Not everybody is all big on the rah-rah bus about oh, let's go have a team building, go have a team building activity or let's go to a happy hour. I'm not one that enjoys drinking in general, but I especially never really embrace the whole idea of the workplace happy hour, cause I'd stand there with my seltzer water and lime and they'd be like, oh, what are you drinking? And I'd be like seltzer water, like, oh, you don't drink? No, I really don't. Oh, is there a problem? No, I just choose not to drink, and especially if I'm out driving, I don't drink. So it's those kinds of things where I would tend to shy away from those situations, right? So think about what are the activities that are going to foster that team cohesion that practically everybody, if not everybody, can get on board with. You know how you do that. You ask them. You ask them what they would want to do and say, hey, I want to do some kind of team event. It's going to be offsite. Here are some options. Pick which one you'd like to do and if none of them appeal to you, write something in, submit something. It's one of the best ways to do that, but it is also important to build that team, especially if your team has gone through any kind of change. Hey there, we'll get back to the episode in a moment, but I want to give you something game-changing, a golden ticket. That is like having a roadmap to take you from career confusion to clarity in minutes. Introducing the mid-career job seekers checklist. It is your secret weapon in your job search. If you feel like navigating your job search right now is like navigating a maze blindfolded, don't worry, my friend, I got your back. This checklist is a powerhouse of organization and preparation, crafted to make you say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed and hello to a career transition made easy. I want you to head on over to https://johnneral. com to snag your free copy of the mid-career job seekers checklist. It's not just a checklist, it is a career compass to help you find that job you're going to love. Now let's dive back into the episode. Tip number four is about providing support. It is vital to provide support to any team that is in any kind of leadership transition where they're going to be experiencing feelings of uncertainty or maybe even anxiety. Coping with change and finding how to manage that and address it is important for maintaining morale, one of the things I know and I've learned throughout my career is that when you're implementing change, do it gradually, especially when it comes to how you lead teams. Take time to listen, get to know people, be clear about your intentions and find ways to add value and support. Take time to celebrate successes before and after the transition and find ways to celebrate accomplishments for everybody on the team. That ultimately gives them a sense of stability. And lastly, tip number five, give your new leader a break and maybe even give them a few more. Remember that your new leader is dealing with change as well, and you and your team may not be the best support for them right now. They want to do good work, they want to do right by you and they may be struggling a little bit as well with everything they have going on. The best advice I can offer you in doing this is to assume best intentions when possible. Don't be so quick to react. Be thoughtful, be mindful about how you're showing up, be curious in situations and ultimately that will determine your next steps and where you want to go. I remember being in a similar situation with a new leader taking over and we were having a one-on-one and they shared something with me and I immediately wanted to get defensive. They were commenting about something with my work and I just wanted to like jump down their throat. It was like that kind of day and I remember pausing and stopping and going okay, john, that's not going to be the best move for you, don't do that. And I was like, well, what could I say? And I looked at them and I said, can you tell me what you mean by that? And they kind of looked at me and they were like I need some clarity about what you mean, because I'm hearing one thing and I'm not sure that's your intention. And so they clarified and explained what they meant, and I'm so glad I did that, because I would have completely reacted in the wrong way. Get clarity. Clarity is your friend. Simply pausing and saying, hey, what do you mean by that? That can be a big help in these relationships. What I want you to remember and take away from this episode is that any change is about transition. While we don't know in the future yet whether that change is going to be good or bad, what we know is that if your team is in transition, you're in the thick of it. That means give yourself a little bit of grace and the people around you as you figure out those next steps. The five tips that I've offered you today to help you embrace leadership change when you don't want it to. Tip number one maintain lines of open communication. Tip number two embrace change. Tip number three find ways to foster team collaboration. Number four provide support both for you, the people on your team and your leader. Lastly, give your leader a break. Okay, my friends, be with me on Thursday. I've got another episode coming with you. I will be back with you soon enough, but until then, remember this you will build your mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time. How you show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform If you have a moment. I'd love to hear your comments on Apple Podcast. Visit JohnNarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you in your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at JohnNarrowCoaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters.