A while ago, I had the honor to be a fly on the wall, so to speak, in a sales meeting where one of the mid-level managers was complaining about how things were not working. He went on to say that his team was not on top of their numbers, the codes were changing, new software was being introduced, and the morale was low. He ended his rant by saying, “Something is sorely off,” to which the head manager darted a glance at him and responded, “Hank, transition…it’s not a pretty sight.” To which we all broke out in laughter. The laughter of recognition; and while transition is never comfortable easy or pleasant to experience, it’s an inherent part of the transformation process.
Here are some ways to navigate the somewhat tumultuous waters through challenging times.
1) “What’s Wrong” to “What’s Next”– It’s easy to get caught up in the upset of what’s not working, or how things are changing, all of which may be very disruptive. But as soon one puts their focus on “What’s possible?” our imagination and creative thinking starts to open up in very innovative ways. Possibility brings with it a freshness and aliveness that overrides any exhaustive analysis paralysis that rehashing what’s not working will ever give you.
2) Upgrade your old beliefs around uncertainty and not knowing – Often we look at “not knowing,” from a place of gloom and doom, rather than “not knowing” from a place of expectancy and excitement. “Anything can happen” doesn’t have to look like the “other shoe is dropping by the minute”.
3) Quit the Commiserating Club – As soon as you start hearing yourself or those around you commiserating on “how bad things are,” focus on “What’s possible?” or strategies to work on it. One consultant brought in a “Parking Lot” list where no one at the meeting was allowed to complain about anything unless there was a solution, or idea for a solution written right next to the complaint. If they felt stumped, they need to ask the group to chime in with some ideas.
4) Look for the golden opportunities that seem to surface during transitions – Every change has an opportunity that comes along with it. Your job is to stay open to that opportunity. As you reframe what transition means to you, in a far more empowering context, you’ll be that much more open to see the opportunities as they surface. They can range from a new skill set you have to develop that will make your expertise that much more valuable, the strengthening of interpersonal skills, professional development, perhaps getting more adept at prioritizing, new ideas for new strategies to implement.
5) Transition is a wonderful time for joint ventures, increase your communities and partnerships – When you’re all “in the same boat,” so to speak, it’s a wonderful opportunity to join forces whether it’s connecting seemingly disparate organizations together in a “pay it forward” initiative that serves the bottom line, becoming far more resourceful, or teaming together in a far more powerful way.
6) Stay Focused versus Frantic – Use this time to clarify your priorities (they may be changing) and stay on that track. Be proactive on things you do have say on, and cut your losses (not the same as going into resignation) in areas that you don’t and aren’t really worth your time. A mindset of flexibility and curiosity will help enormously. Having a sense of humor offers a shift in perspective.
7) Be patient with the learning curves you may be in and take care of yourself – Transitions often have large learning curves attached to them, by being both patient and persistent with shortening those learning curves and asking for help, you’ll have a better chance of being more energized by the changes versus overwhelmed. Good self-care, i.e. sleep, healthy eating, exercise and some kind of regular creative time and a solid mindfulness practice (brief meditation or silent walks) will allow you to operate with a full tank, so to speak, and see change from a far more healthier vantage point.