How to Communicate Leadership Change

How to Communicate Leadership Change

  1. Decide how and when you’re going to make the announcement
  2. Consider who is going to be most affected
  3. Avoid being vague or ambiguous
  4. Be prepared to answer questions
  5. Prepare for media interest

The key to effectively communicating leadership change is to control the narrative from the outset. As far as possible, you want to dictate how people feel about the change in leadership. Obviously, individuals are going to have their own thoughts and opinions but, by outlining the reasons for the change and pre-empting questions, you can heavily influence perceptions.

Who should communicate the leadership change?

Deciding when and how you’re going to make those points will require a well-thought-out and considered plan. For example, who is going to make the announcement? Someone who is seen as a trusted figure among stakeholders, and who feels comfortable asking questions, will be best suited.

If possible, the announcement would be made in a face-to-face setting. This will allow you to take questions more easily. Those questions are likely to include the following:

  • When will the leadership change come into effect?
  • How was the choice of successor made?
  • What is their previous experience and what qualifies them for the role?
  • When will they learn the incoming leader’s new goals and strategy?
  • How will a change in leadership affect them?

If you would prefer to tell people in smaller groups, you could do so through individual managers. You could announce the news to the more senior leadership and have them filter the news down through the company. Should you choose this option, remember to check that the correct message is passed on and that crucial details aren’t misrepresented or forgotten.

We would recommend initially announcing the change in leadership to those who will be most affected. This will be employees who interacted with the departing leader on a daily basis and who may now see their own role or team dynamics changing. The more warning you can give them of the leadership change, the more time they will have to prepare and adjust.

What should they say?

When it comes to change, no news is bad news.

If stakeholders have some awareness that a change of leadership is in the works, they will fill the vacuum of information with their own speculation. Such uncertainty about the future can cause tension within the company. With this in mind, you’ll want to avoid being vague or ambiguous in your statements. Give stakeholders concrete reasons as to why the incumbent leader has left, although do feel free to frame it within the company’s talent pipelining strategy.

How should you handle the media?

Depending on your company’s size or its level of influence, there could be significant interest from the media in the leadership change.

Ideally, this would be positive in nature.

We recommend that you prepare a set of key points to feed to media organisations, highlighting the advantages and opportunities a new leader offers a company. Don’t diverge from the justification given to employees as you can guarantee any discrepancy will be noted and investigated further.

 


The change has been communicated effectively and the leader is in the business – so what’s next?..

Did you know that 47% of senior executive appointments are deemed failures within the first 12 months?

Our Managing Director, James Beazley, explains why this is below.

 

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