Three Ways to Ensure a Smooth Transition During Senior Management Changes

By Brett Derricott

When upper management transitions occur, you want the process to be painless. This isn’t always easy – especially if the change is happening due to non-performance or conflict and a resulting fire. However, by preparing beforehand, you can ensure the transition will be as smooth as possible. The guidelines below will help make the changes in your business easier for everyone involved.

Be Transparent

Whenever possible, be transparent about the change. Transparency has several advantages – especially during major senior management changes.

First, by eliminating any gossip by setting the story straight up front, employees will stay focused on their jobs instead of wondering about the reason for the changes.

Second, employees will feel more at ease in their job security. If the change occurred due to someone moving on to a new opportunity, retirement, or simply not being the right fit for the company, let your employees know. Be up front. Don’t leave questions open surrounding the change. This can cause employees to wonder about their job stability.

One way to be transparent is to have the departing senior manager speak with employees before leaving. Encourage the manager to express appreciation for the team and explain their reason for departure. If they’re able, they should introduce their successor to the group. This works great if the departure is a cordial one.

If the departing manager isn’t on good terms with the company, a member of HR or upper management should step in to hold a meeting. Simply state the reason for the change and introduce the new management if already in place.

When a senior manager leaves the company, be sure to cover all of your bases legally. Senior managers are often exposed to sensitive company information which you might need to protect. Be clear. If the manager is being terminated, be sure to include any legal restrictions in their termination letter.

In any case, take advantage of legal advice. You’ll feel more confident throughout the entire process. Legal advisors will also help you establish a documented procedure. This, in turn, eliminates some of the guesswork. You’ll also be better prepared if this type of situation occurs in the future. A set procedure will also help mitigate the possibility of legal action later.

Support New Management

Make sure the incoming management is fully prepared and cognizant of the situation. After any senior management changes, give the new manager information on the status of their team. Make sure they also have a synopsis of current projects and are given access to all necessary resources. Get them started on the right track. Armed with this information, new managers will be able to get to work right away.

Productive managers will then also set an example for their team members. Knowing their new manager has the full support of the company, employees can align their goals with the new management as well.

Follow these guidelines to ensure smooth management transitions for everyone involved. Managers and employees alike will thank you.