My department has recently undergone some changes in key leadership personnel.  These changes were due to justified performance issues and these managers have agreed to take a demotion in order to keep a job.
 Now rumors are flying as these people had relationships with many of the remaining employees.  Bottom line was they weren’t getting the job done but of course their spin is different and employees appear to be siding with them in that this was not fair. 
Now as the lone Manager left I feel I must say something to all employees to try and limit the distractions and get everyone’s focus back.  Problem is I don’t know what to say.  I can’t share the real reasons as that would be breach of confidentiality wouldn’t it?
Anyone had a similar situation and what did you do to start building trust back up? Right now trust is low and fear is very high. 

jhack's picture

Don't dwell on the past.  When people are ineffective, the people around them know it.  There may be some who support them (perhaps their own ineffectiveness was masked by this person?) but you can't worry about them.  

Listen to the "First rule for new managers" podcast (

Start your one on ones.  Review their goals and objectives with them (stick with current goals) and let them know you're interested in the team succeeding in meeting their goals.  

DO NOT engage in gossip, DO NOT discuss any reasons for the re-org, other than to say that senior management believes the team will be more successful with the new structure in place.  

John Hack

bug_girl's picture

Yeah, most of my posts are "I agree with John."  :D

We recently underwent a massive re-organization with some firings, and none of us know what our budget will be for 2010--still.  Lots of uncertainty.

I've actually been pretty successful by just stopping any attempts to discuss the shortcomings of those now absent by simply saying "Let's stay focused on the present issue."  I cut them off immediately before we can go down the road to what went wrong in the past.

I also have emphasised in one-on-ones that while some of the decisions/new policies I'm implementing seem harsh, my key goal is to keep every one of my current employees employed, full time, with benefits.  And having our sales go up and happier customers is how we will meet that goal.

I'm also trying to stay out of the way and give them time to discuss amongst themselves. Some people (not my directs, thankfully) didn't speak to me for several weeks, but I'm slowly getting them to open up again.  Letting go of that sort of stuff has been difficult for me, as a High S. I want to help them process!

The one person who is still refusing to be in the same room with me...well. She looks like a petulant idiot.


Time heals many things. This will take time.

umgrizfan2's picture

Thanks to both of you for your comments.  JHACK your comments were very good.  A follow up question I have is that we now have approximately 65 employees in the department.  Of these, 6 are my direct reports but only temporarily until we find a replacement manager for this particular division.  That leaves roughly 60 front line employees that are curious as to what is going on.  I have heard they are nervous and rumors are floating around.  Would you recommend a meeting including all employees or one on ones with all 60?

12string's picture
Training Badge

60 O3's to communicate this would exhaust you.  I would include all 60 and allow a considerable chunk of time for questions, rumors, etc... to come out.  You might even want to throw a few of the rumors that you heard out to them and discuss their validity.

Good luck.  I would be interested in hearing how that meeting goes. 


jhack's picture

Are all 65 reporting into your 6 directs?  Or are only some of them?  

One on ones with all 60 isn't feasible.   

In this situation, a communication via email might be in order (to clarify the future, not discuss the past).   

John Hack

umgrizfan2's picture

Not all 65 report to these 6 however 30 of them do.  The remaining 35 or so work for another department however are affected by these changes as well and I'm sure wondering if it is coming there way.  I realize I cant do all 60 one on one's however also tyring to avoid doing this in form of an email.  I guess the best alternative is to have a group meeting and clear the air. 

Thanks for all your input.

jhack's picture

The form of your communications is important:  holding an "all hands" meeting (regardless of its content) sends the message that this is important, that you consider their concerns valid, and that you think the air needs clearing.  

That meta-communication may or may not be a good thing.  It may carry more import than anything you say.  

If you hold the meeting, make sure you focus on the future, and the goals for the organization.  Say nothing negative about anyone.  But you knew that...

Good luck!  

John Hack