Transitions Happen All The Time, So Why Do They Go Badly?

Over the years, I have been involved in many transitions; as a leader coming into a new situation; as a member for a team getting dissolved; as a member of an existing team getting a dissolved team. There is one thing that is definite, they cause all sorts of churn. In these types of transitions, we are dealing with people. From the years of experience, I have come up with a list of items that I feel are must haves in order to make everything seem okay.

  • Communicate, Communicate and Communicate – When communication is timely and real, most folks will move forward quickly and not worry too much about what is happening. It is also, the first thing that breaks down or never is established fast enough. Set up immediately the communications channels, set aside time in your calendar to be more open, never miss an opportunity to just walk around and be visible.
  • Get the top folks together, quickly – With all organization transitions, there are the top folks that must come together and get to know each other quickly. Getting the “A” team in place and moving forward together – will help greatly with the rest of the organization. There will be people on either side that carry the leader role in folks minds, you need to tap into those folks. If there are people that are not going to workout together, time to make changes. Don’t be afraid to change the overall structure at this time. Don’t just fill a gap with a strong person. You need to put the right folks in the right places.
  • Start small and start fast – What I mean here is really get some wins under your belt. Those wins could be as simple as removing roadblocks or changing the way things always have been done – that people complained about. It is important to demonstrate to the new organization that hitting the ground running and winning is first! The longer times goes by and the shape and form has not been clearly set – the longer it will take folks to move forward as well.
  • Shape “your” vision with the new team – As a leader, the vision is critical for setting the path that the team will be going on. Using your “old” vision from the old team may work, but frankly the new members will just not see why the transition needed to happen. Revisit your vision, tweak it if necessary and really get that vision out to all of the team.
  • Build your support network– there are always folks that you can lean on for real information. Those folks that just tell it like it is. Some from within the organization are nice, but make sure you are getting some of the key partners, support and customers. Need to have a complete 360 view. Nothing worse than having some blind-spots.

There is no perfect solution to any transition. Remember the majority of the churn comes from people, be aware and stay connected. I have witnessed many that had the leader go underground to work out all of the details, by themselves. Come up with the magic sauce and pass it out to all. Then later asks, what is so difficult, I did all the hard stuff…. Well, the magic sauce maybe good, but you forgot that people were out there.

Anyone else have anything that they do that eases transitions?