We now move from the Thanksgiving table to the conference room table. We’ve been noticing how changes in the business world – from executive comings and goings to mergers, promotions, and other adjustments – can affect the workplace.

So many business people do their work in teams. Often, a climate of change can be distracting to such teams, as members are worried, mistrustful, unclear or opportunistic. Change can lead to fear, and everyone can be affected differently. New members feel like outsiders, current members see themselves as obsolete, and anyone can become unwilling to offer input that can be valuable a team’s effectiveness.

Team leaders play important roles in helping their teams navigate change. It is the job of a leader to make sure that the team stays focused, on task, and moving forward, especially in a difficult environment. We’ve been working in recent months with a number of individuals and teams in this type of situation, helping them to take the reigns and lead their teams by taking actions such as these:

  • Welcoming new members, both privately and publicly, and clarifying the roles that they will be expected to play on the team.
  • Acknowledging issues that the team may need to confront, such as a post-merger clash of cultures or promotion of one team member over another.
  • Recognizing outstanding contributions that the team – or specific team members – has made to the larger organization.
  • Thanking members publicly for their hard work and extra effort, when appropriate.
  • Sharing honest and real feedback and information, without sugarcoating, especially when people are nervous about rumors or anticipated changes.
  • Reminding the team of its mission and its role within the organization, particularly when morale seems low or the work seems particularly difficult.
  • Providing one-on-one counsel and coaching to team members to encourage or help them succeed in their work.
  • Clarifying expectations of team members, especially when roles change.
  • Encouraging concerns and questions to be expressed both publicly and appropriately, instead of behind people’s backs.
  • Initiating informal or social gatherings, such as taking the entire team out to dinner when traveling together.

Leading well is about communicating well. Be clear with the people you lead. Set the tone that encourages them to work efficiently and effectively. Help them to understand their role in the larger organization. And let them know that you appreciate their hard work–especially around the holidays.