There’s a New Sheriff in TownPosted: July 8, 2013
As HR pros, we have all been there (or will be there one day). We all have a bit of a cringe when we get the knock on our door and the person asks, “Do you have a minute?” And the person standing there is a member of a department that you know all too well – and not in a good way. The person proceeds to tell you that their new manager is “targeting” the employees and is being “mean” and maybe even causing an all-out ruckus. Something needs to be done to stop them! But the feedback you hear is lukewarm at best and seems shaded with a hint of subjectivity. An investigation ensues.
A department or area with a history of problems and/or negative attitudes suddenly (whether serendipitously or by design) has a change in leadership. While we breathe a sigh of relief, go whooping down the hallway or simply say “Thank Goodness”, we need to be ready for the potential backlash of those left behind. Those who were the minions of the prior regime and may not be feeling too happy about the change in their food chain. Their attempts at revenge may be swift.
It is hard when leadership changes but there are a few things that can soften the blow. If a manager or director leaves a bad situation or department, it is prudent to fully assess the area before a new leader is put in place. Take a temperature check of the area or even do some random engagement interviews. The employees might open up and share some juicy stuff which could prompt an employee relations frenzy. Hopefully there is a something to investigate from the findings.
It would be best to figure out some solutions before a new leader is put into the role. Whether someone from the outside or even within the company, not everyone may be aware of the feelings and attitudes in a specific area. Leadership candidates from the same department should be carefully reviewed. While they may be the ideal person to chart a new course for the troubled area, they could also reinforce past behaviors and have lingering resentment against some members of the team. When selecting a new leader for a challenged department, it may be a good idea to share some of the realities of the department with the final candidate(s). Sending them in blind can backfire and cause even more stress. You could be sending this new manager into a den of lions. And always have regular follow up meetings until things improve or fully subside.
What have you done to help fix departments that need fixing?
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