Managing Leadership Change
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
In the retail work world frequent changes in management and leadership seems to be commonplace. This may be due to job transfers within the organization, retirements, business slowdown, company growth, or new corporate strategies. Retailers may also experience mergers or acquisitions that bring new executives into the organization. Leadership changes also bring different perspectives and priorities which can cause tension among staff as individuals wonder what may become of their job, their projects, and the overall culture of the company. Management transitions, however, are inevitable and likely to occur many times during the course of your employment. Here are some ways to plan for surviving and even thriving during these periods:
Prepare for the transition. If your direct manager is leaving and they are the only one who truly understood and advocated for your programs, you might be concerned about your role and the support you’ll get from the new person. This is why it’s vital to ensure that many other formal and informal leaders in the company understand the work you do and the value you bring to the organization. Make sure your elevator speech is ready along with a brief presentation highlighting how your work benefits the department and/or company so you are ready to discuss when needed.
Survive the change. Resist the urge to overwhelm your new boss or executive with a list of all your best ideas right away. The best thing to do initially is to listen and observe to get a better understanding of how they work and how they want to be communicated with. When the time is right, get on their schedule to discuss your key initiatives and the essential role you play. It’s important to be authentic as you justify the work you do, but stay flexible to different ways of doing things so you can show new leadership that you are open for whatever is best for business success.
- Thrive after the change. It’s important to be patient and stay open during times of transition. A new leader may help you take a fresh look at your job and suggest new approaches to your work, while at the same time, challenging the value of long-standing programs. View these discussions as an opportunity for growth and perhaps reprioritizing. Rise to any challenges, and look for opportunities to learn, engage and even possibly advance your career.