How to reassure your team in case of a big change

Brett Huff

Former Head of Engineering at BillionToOne



This year, Atlassian announced that it was acquiring Trello during our annual get together. After the announcement, we had a few Q&A sessions with various Atlassian leaders, who tried to answer as many questions as possible. Unsurprisingly, even after these sessions, everyone still had a lot of questions and felt insecure. Some people in my team had been through bad buyouts and were extremely dubious about Atlassian's goodwill. A few were also talking negatively about the change, and these negative beliefs were then spreading to other staff members.

Actions taken

As a manager, I talked directly with each person in my team. The first thing I did was listen to them, giving them a place to vent their frustrations. I then tried to give them as much information as possible, even acknowledging that sometimes I didn't have information, in order to reassure them. I also used the values of Atlassian, which are "seek first to understand", to help reassure them that our acquirer was not against us, and would try to make our organization work in the best way possible. I made a point not to try to smooth things over with money, as that is not what people want to hear. People appreciate money and having a job, but no one wants to hear "just deal with it because you're being paid.". In order to reassure the most negative employee, who had gone through some very negative buyouts, I asked my executives to have the CEO talk with him. It reassured him to talk to the person who was in charge of the deal.

Lessons learned

When your company goes through big changes, it is crucial as a manager to make an extra effort to communicate with your team and to treat each team member's doubts with care. During big changes, every employee should be given some personal attention to soothe concerns they may have

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Brett Huff

Former Head of Engineering at BillionToOne

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