After 27 years of managing teams, shifts, departments and such – I am now leading one, myself. I still have focal and other things to close up, but for the most part the day to day coaching, assisting and helping manage people is no more. Not sure why I wanted to write a blog post on this topic. Maybe it was to put my feelings into words? Maybe it was to ask for others that have gone through the same situation, what has helped them? Maybe it is just good therapy. You know when you do something for that long, the work becomes a part of you. For 27 years, when people asked me where I worked and what I did – I always answered proudly with “I am a manager at Intel.” What emotions did I first encounter?
We all know the four emotional stages of change:
- Disbelief and Denial – those very initial thoughts of this is not happening to me. If I just stay focused on my work, this will go away.
- Anger and Blame – then we move onto the why should I change or is this how I am being treated after all those years of hard work and dedication?
- Reluctant Acceptance – next we here words like – there is so much to do, where do I get started and I’ll never get all that done. Looking at ways to move forward.
- The Final Stage – stop dwelling on the past and looking to the future. Clear sense is made of the role that they are playing, excited to get started.
I would be stretching the truth a bit, if I was to say that none of these emotional stages apply to me. During the recent reorg, my mother org was being disbanded and moved to different parts of the larger department. The next couple of weeks, I spent ensuring that my team was placed into roles that fit their skills, the orgs needs and hopefully helping them moved through the emotional stages. I have done my best to help them move quickly into the Final Stage, which is probably not going to happen – till all of them start officially reporting to their new manager. I know almost all of those managers personally, and feel very comfortable that all will work out well (good people, good managers – moving forward will happen).
Here are some of the things that I have thought of and tried to do – during the transition.
- During Denial – Do everything you can to minimize the shock. Plan ahead. Give them plenty of information – let them know what the changes will be, who will be affected by them and how. Give them best estimate of the likely timeframe – remembering that these things always take longer than originally planned.. Give them chance to prepare themselves and let the changes sink in. You cannot over-communicate now.
- During Resistance – Listen to what people have to say. Empathize. Don´t tell them to snap out of it or pull themselves together. The easy thing to do is provide solutions, they just want their responses and reactions acknowledged. Denying feelings will only drive the resistance deeper and make it last longer.
- During Exploration – Now people need practical encouragement and support. Involve them in planning and setting goals. Focus on some short term wins to get early runs on the board –show the benefit of the changes. People will respond well if they can see the positive impact of the change. Watch out if the changes do not provide any immediate observable benefit. Then there is a real likelihood that people will sink back into resistance and may even undermine your change strategy completely.
- During Commitment – Which is yet to come – but when you are through the transition, set about consolidating the change. Implement an appropriate cultural change program. Recognize and reward people who are responding well to the change. Be careful to not inadvertently reward any behavior that is inconsistent with what you´re aiming for.
For me, somewhat of a different story. What I am passionate about and what I do well, I will not be doing right now. My new role is as an individual contributor working on transitioning my teams work to other parts of the organization (with streamlining in mind). For me, I am definitely at reluctant acceptance. Why? The role is not something that I have ever been interested in. I will do it, because that is what I have been asked to do. I will do my best, as always… There is no other way for me to work. My transition has started, but I still have some items from the past role that will not close right away. So, moving forward into that Final Stage is a work in progress.
I guess I am writing this to help me. By reminding me what the stages are, helping my team move forward and even myself for that matter. Anyone have any helpful hints to make it to that Final Stage quicker?