When Cat’s Away, the Mice Become Marginally Less Productive

What happens when a senior manager leaves the company? Does the office fall apart, or do the remaining employees rally to the challenge? Staffing firm Robert Half set out to get some answers.

The company surveyed both workers and Chief Financial Officers, and found that employee productivity can take a big hit when the boss leaves.

Both workers and CFOs believe having a vacant senior manager role has an adverse impact on the team’s efficiency, though those in leadership (70 percent) are likelier to find it an even greater problem than staffers (59 percent).

Decreased morale and motivation were the biggest reported causes of lost productivity among both groups, followed by concerns over increased workloads and fear about job security or relationships with the new boss.

“When there are changes in management, employees often feel distressed by the unknown,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “To help ease the transition and allay any concerns, it’s essential for employers to communicate openly and often with staff.”

Managers can avoid a drop in productivity and help employees effectively navigate changes in leadership by heeding this advice from Robert Half:

  • Cultivate succession and hiring pipelines. Know who in your department or company might be ready to move into a bigger role, and keep a trusted recruiter on speed dial.
  • Consider an interim boss. If you don’t have someone who can step into a leadership position immediately, hire an interim manager to keep projects moving and workloads in check.
  • Move quickly. Minimize the time of uncertainty by filling the role swiftly yet smartly, making sure you check off all necessary steps.
  • Keep everyone informed. Updating your team about the progress of the search for a new manager can help improve staff morale and keep rumors to a minimum.

Companies need to take action toward replacing the departed manager, and keep the lines of communication open with remaining employees. Seems simple enough.

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