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Ask The Expert : Will this change adversely affect us?

I am the manager of a small, cohesive team and, due to restructuring, now have 2 extra members of staff.  The members of my team have all worked together for many years and I am worried that the team will become divided and less motivated due to new personalities joining them.  It doesn’t help matters that the 2 new members are rather reluctant as they have been redeployed into my department and have to take on new roles.  Is there any practical advice you can offer to help me keep my team motivated and help integrate the new team members?

Firstly, your role is not only to view this change positively – but to believe that you will definitely be able to manage this transition. A positive ambassador will do wonders for confidence building within your team.

As a team you all need to take some time, explore some possible ways forward, and positively support each other as you work towards some communicated and agreed objectives.

All team members need to realise that this restructuring has caused similar emotions in everyone. Everyone is experiencing an emotional transition which includes: anger; self-doubt; and apathy. The restructuring is happening however, and will not go away – so individuals need to choose to move, hopefully fairly quickly, towards: acceptance; reflection and adaptation.

You can support this by holding initial and regular 1 to 1’s with each member of staff – to listen carefully and empathise with what they are telling you. Don’t be afraid to allow emotional discussions, and you can help staff reframe any negative thoughts towards hopeful optimism. This is an opportunity to remind everyone of their strengths and how these could be employed to ease this ‘adverse’ event. The danger of not facilitating this via 1 to 1’s is that individuals can harbour their negativity and resentment over time – building more of a ‘catastrophe’ from the restructuring, rather than viewing the situation as a ‘speed bump’.

Of course these individuals need to work towards a new future as a team, and you can lead them towards this by ensuring that they: maintain perceptions of control; develop problem solving skills; communicate with, and support each other.

Start putting together a skills matrix and think about how to overcome immediate problems, and how to involve staff in doing this. Then involve people in making decisions on aligned issues around workload and responsibility – encouraging everyone to address the most difficult tasks first. Meet very regularly as a team, not only to agree on action points, but also to form a bond and commitment to agreed objectives within the team.

Constantly provide constructive feedback to your team on performance and behaviour, and ensure a mechanism to enable them to feedback to you, and to each other as well.

Proactive support and communication throughout the team should then be promoted, paving the way to a more resilient future.

Good luck.

This article’s expert was Dot Gourlay

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