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by Laura Fox
on February 07, 2019

Change Communications: How to Announce a New Leader Joining Your Team

You’ve vetted candidates, delved into their accomplishments and history, and ensured a fit from a cultural perspective. Now you’re ready to bring a new leader on board.

Adding a new leader to your team can cause both enthusiasm and trepidation, given that the new individual may be managing employees who have been with the team for a while and are used to certain processes. If you’re bringing on the right person, the new leader is coming on board with fresh ideas, motivated and ready to make an impact. To ensure that the transition runs as smoothly and successfully as possible, follow these steps:

Employee FAQs: 11 Must-Answer Questions During Organizational Change  Get the PDF

1. Start Early

On both sides - new leader and existing team - it is important to openly communicate early in the transition process. Fill the new leader in on organizational structure, social dynamics, cultural norms, and practices and processes. Make sure they’re aware of any key groups that might be affected by the transition, and how the groups may generally feel about the change.

As for the current team, be aware that news travels quickly. Get ahead of the narrative, and send an email to the team about why a change is being made. If a previous leader is leaving on good terms, be sure to explain that to the team. If not, don’t delve into the details; rather, focus on the new leader’s qualifications, what he or she will be responsible for, and your expectations. Advise the team of the leader’s official start date, any change in reporting structure, and encourage colleagues to reach out and welcome the leader. Outline the general next steps for onboarding, and what the team can expect.

2. Address the Various Audiences

Prepare messages for the larger organization, as well as for smaller, more impacted groups. For instance, the new leader’s direct reports will be most impacted, and will likely have greater concerns and questions. Prepare answers to some frequently asked questions, i.e.:

  • Why this change?
  • How will our relationships and structure change?
  • What does this mean for my job or responsibilities?
  • Have we told clients or the media?

Be sure to put yourself in the audience’s shoes, and be cognizant of how you structure your messages. Allow key groups to ask questions and express any areas of concern. If you don’t know the answer to a question that is asked, ensure the employee that you will gather and answer and report back.

3. Allow the Leader to Introduce Themselves

When the new leader comes on board, have him or her introduce themself to the the team, ideally within the first few days of employment. This can be done via email or a broader all-hands call. Have a trustworthy person of authority conduct the initial introduction, explaining what the new leader brings to the table, before handing over the mic. This person could be the new leader’s boss, or the individual previously in the position (if they are leaving on good terms or willing to assist in the handoff). The introduction serves to drive excitement, and sets the stage for first steps in learning the business and getting to know the team. It will help team members begin to learn the new leader’s personality and style, and open the door for communication. Though plans may not be set on what to expect in the first 30, 60, or 90 days, this can lay the groundwork for the leader’s intentions at the onset.

4. Hit the Ground Running

During the leader’s first week, have them meet with their team and individually with their new direct reports. This will serve as an introduction, and also a forum where expectations are communicated, issues and action plans are discussed, and assignments are clarified. During this meeting, the leader will set the tone for the working relationship, and prime the team with excitement for the next steps of the team’s journey.

5. Regular Check-Ins

It’s important to regularly check in on expectations and plans that were set early on. Have the leader meet with their team regularly to discuss progress made on goals and gather constant input and feedback. The goal is to establish a climate of respect and trust that the leader will deliver on their action items.

6. Establish Top Priorities

Once the leader has had a couple of weeks to learn the business, meet the teams, and get their feet wet, it’s time to establish and communicate top priorities. Once the leader decides upon top initiatives, they should clearly define priorities and develop a plan for achieving them. The plan should be easily digestible for the team, and explained clearly so everyone is aligned on where you are going and how you will get there.

Pro Tip

If you want to send this update out to a number of teams and your company spans multiple locations, leverage video to reach all audiences and allow them to connect with the new leader.

Leader transitions are inevitable in companies that are committed to growth. Your objective is to minimize potential feelings of fear or anxiousness that can accompany bringing new leadership on board, and maximize optimism and excitement for the new leader. To continue the discussion on how to announce a new leader to your organization, send us a note.