Friday, May 28, 2010

Three Strategies for Managing Change and Transition Successfully

Got Change?
Have you ever encountered a situation where you were faced with organizational changes that left you uncertain about how to manage and navigate through the transition? Problems can arise sometime when you reach out to people within your organization, because it can descend into a gripe session, which really isn’t helpful. If you seek guidance and advice from your personal network, there may be a limited or lack of understanding about the complexity of your particular situation. The reality is that if you don’t navigate the transition well there can be unintended, negative consequences. Further complicating matters it can feel and/or appear as if there can be winners and losers during times of change and transition. Let’s face it no one wants to be on the losing side of the equation.

Drivers and Accelerators of Change
In my consulting practice almost all of the organizations I work with are undergoing some type of change driven by either internal and/or external factors - sometimes a combination of both. Some of the external drivers that can trigger the change process include industry innovations; market changes, such as competitive forces; economic; technological; social and political forces. Some of the internal drivers that can trigger the change process include leadership and management changes, which can result in mission, vision, strategy, and the need for tactical shifts; organizational growth or decline; expansion into new markets and adding new product lines; and the need to streamline processes and procedures.

There are drivers that “accelerate” the rate at which change occurs, such as globalization, technological advances, a CEO change, and, of course, the most recent economic downturn where many companies had to respond quickly in order to survive. Although it is possible to envision a time when globalization will not be an accelerator for change, but for now globalization continues to accelerate the rate at which organizations must respond and adapt.

Whatever the driver for change, we must learn how to adapt quickly – even when we don’t feel ready or equipped.

How to Successfully Manage Change and Transition
Organizational changes can be lonely and challenging to navigate, but there are strategies you can employ that can make the process a lot easier. What do I mean by that?

Tip #1 Manage Your Stress Levels
Ok – admit it change is stressful. Sometimes it is a good stress, but sometimes it tips over into distress! Depending on all that is going on in your life, this may be the stressor that breaks the proverbial camel’s back. Therefore, it is critical to learn ways to manage stress, because stress can create havoc on your body. It increases the body’s production of cortisol, which can result in weight gain. Too much stress can actually inhibit intellectual functioning. I could go on and on, but the most important thing is to manage your stress levels, so that it does not negatively affect your health.

For me Bikram yoga is an amazing outlet, but it is a big commitment. I am not big into meditation, because I really cannot sit still that long, but any form of yoga allows me time to focus on the mind, body connection. Whatever your choice find something that works for you, something that you can/will commit to.

Tip #2 Observe and Stay Grounded and Connected
First let me say that if you don’t manage your stress level, it will be very hard to observe, stay grounded and get connected. In part, because when you are overwhelmed with stress and fear it is difficult to stay grounded. So while feeling fear during times of transition and change is normal – don’t let it rule you and your decisions. This will help you to stay grounded so that you can actually observe and stay connected to how the changes might affect you. It will also allow you to ask the right questions from the right people. If you are not grounded during times of change, you can be thrown about by the winds of change and feel completely out of control. I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay grounded during times of change, because it will allow you to see where you are/are not aligned with changes and more importantly what you need to do in order to take care of yourself during the change as well as what skills you might need to learn in order to be a major player as the change unfolds.

Tip #3 Build Capacity
As I mentioned in tip #2, when you are grounded you will see trends that you might not see and you will begin to understand how the change applies to you and what skills you will need to build in order to be a successful player as the changes unfold. Without understanding how the change applies to you and what capacity you must build – you could get left in the dust wondering what the heck just happened as the transition rolls on.

There is more
There are more strategies, but these are the top three plus this is the beginning for you to ponder as you navigate the winds of change. We will be posting a white paper on change soon on our website, which will include additional strategies, so check it out if you would like to read more on this topic.

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