When you manage an organization – any organization – through a period of change, there are four main stages to navigate.
- The End
- The Transition
- The New Beginning
The firm I worked for divided the change as many organizations do:
They rightfully spent time on preparation, but forgot to ask some key questions during that time. The End is a scary time that most avoid, so they rushed it and didn’t talk about what would be going away or why. The Transition is generally treated as a regimented linear to-do list that gets “done” in a relatively short amount of time. The part everyone is excited to get to is The New Beginning, where sales increase and productivity improves and everything is better. But you can’t get there if rest of the process wasn’t handled properly.
Instead, your time should be spent more like this:
Preparation: When you prepare for change, there are a few key things you need to know.
- What do people do now that they will care about after the change?
- Who are your key performers? What will you need to do to ensure their comfort through the transition?
- What questions will people have during the transition? What resources should I have available for them during that time?
The End: Don’t hide the fact that the end is coming. Talk about it. Acknowledge it. But make sure you focus on it as an opportunity for change and growth.
Transition: This is where you should expect to spend the majority of your time and effort, and where you should be ready to help people the most. It’s also where your preparation really pays off. The transition is not a series of checkboxes that just gets “done.” Instead, it’s a fluid process. Every transition period is unique to that change and happens at its own pace. In fact, every transition period is different for each worker who goes through a transition. You have to let that happen and not try to force it to fit a rigid schedule for your convenience.
The New Beginning: When the gears really start clicking, when you notice other people answering the questions you used to answer, when the process is running on its own – that’s when the beginning has really arrived and yes, it IS beautiful. But it’s also way at the end of a long journey, and you have to be patient and not rush it.