Minimizing Transition during Transformation by Dan Newman

Due to the high pace of proliferation surrounding us, information and technology have become rapidly more available to everyone.

What used to be considered radical transformation is now merely change within many organizations; Placing us in a world once dominated by the fortune 500 but not necessarily any longer. With each “Out of Nowhere” success we are becoming accustomed to watching one giant killer after another birth itself out of the start up nation delivering a death sentence to the technology of yesteryear.

With each iteration of innovation comes more knowledge, and with knowledge being the byproduct of information and context we are becoming more and more aware of the change around us. For most people that is scary.

It wasn’t long ago that businesses ran with modest almost unnoticeable change year after year. Employment was a lifelong commitment for many employers and employees alike.

For the human psyche this was ideal. This is because deep down people don’t like change. It isn’t so much because change is a bad thing. Most people in fact would probably suggest that change is a good thing.

However, the same group of people will become scared, resistive, or even combative when they feel change that effects them.

That is because regardless of their opinion on change, when the change was unexpected and/or unprepared for it tends to yield less than satisfactory results.

So if change creates problem, what happens within an organization when transformation rears its beautiful yet unforgiving head?

The idea of transformation vs. change for anyone whom is wondering is that transformation takes the very definition of change and makes it exponential across all axises.

During typical organizational transformation employees can quickly become lost. Sometimes this is due to their own fear of what they are seeing coming. With fear and change looming in their minds this can be the precipice of mass exodus within an organization or perhaps even worse the loss of key employees that were outside of the “Transformation Planning.”

When this happens companies have to face a myriad of problems, but most specifically they will turnover which can be cancerous within a delicate culture. Beyond cultural disruption turnover is extraordinarily expensive and it also slows down the transformative goals which is how we arrived here in the first place.

To add insult to injury, some organizations choose to blame the exiting employees. While this is easy, (kind of like sales saying “Price” cost them the deal) it is often nothing more than a scape goat; simply suggesting that some employees weren’t “Moving with the times,” shows both a lack of character and a lack of class. Further, it is most likely not true.

This brings us to the first point of action…

As an organizational leader, you must constantly evaluate employee fit into the culture and their ability to adapt to change. Then we must do everything in our power to motivate those that best fit to align their efforts to the company direction.

Then we must re-center our thinking and focus on control.

After all, as leaders we are ALWAYS responsible for setting the sails of our proverbial ships, and we all know that a ship will move faster and more on course with all hands on deck. Just look for that “Motivation” poster in your office…you know, the one that says “Teamwork.”

Bringing the ownership of transformation to US, the leaders of change.

While we cannot control the entire domino effect that coincides with an organizations shift, we most certainly have control of most of it.

This includes the messaging, the continuous communication that is required between leadership and the team, as well as the creation and cultivation of a culture of change.

The transformational organization isn’t going away. In fact change and transformation are going to see an exponential increase in speed. (This is emphatic, although I have no science to prove it) Just look at what is happening around us for the cues.

While we cannot reverse the trend, we can control our outcomes. This starts with great people, and ends with great leaders.

Shift happens…how will you make the most of it?

Graphic by Shawn Murphy

Daniel Newman is the Co-Founder of 12 Most. Proudly, Daniel is married to his wonderful wife Lisa and has two beautiful daughters Hailey and Avery. Dan is also an Adjunct Professor of Business as North Central College in Naperville, Illinois where he teaches courses in Strategy, Management, and International Marketing. With a passion for helping emerging companies, Daniel sits on the Board of Youtern.com as well as Click2Cause.com. An avid golfer, a fitness fanatic, and a classically trained pianist; Daniel loves life, his family, and helping others.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/Natasha_D_G Natasha Gabriel

    Still looking for my “teamwork” poster! (home office) Too funny but yes we all know those posters.

    I’m with you regarding shifts. They’re inevitable in life, in work, in business. The individual that adjusts their sail the fastest and with the most accuracy wins. Too late and you just may have missed the wind of change and go adrift. Nice post as usual Daniel!

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com/blog Alan Kay

    Dan, you are dead right about messaging and communication during transformation. The responsibility for transformation rests at the top. It presents an interesting opportunity for the leader who has learned to let go of the details and let their people make things happen. The leader has to strike the right balance of being engaged in the work and not doing it.

    Sometimes transformation is externally driven, and other times it’s internal. Every case is different so change comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It may have little structure, or lots of process broken down into individual projects. The key is to transform based on the people changing, not just the systems and processes. Change happens at the individual level. The best person to demonstrate the necessary change is the leader.

  • http://www.brucesallan. Bruce Sallan

    For some companies, making a change is like a huge ship turning…very slow. For me as a sole entrepreneur it is often something I resist ’cause I just don’t like it. Once I’m comfortable, I don’t want to have to learn something new. Magnify that and you have the problem you’ve written about Daniel! BUT, it’s those who change that grow and prosper!

  • Pingback: Talent And Transformation: A Delicate Balance - TalentCulture - World of Work()

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com/blog Alan Kay

    Bruce, you might want to reframe your feelings about change by looking instead at this piece on growth mindset. http://solutionfocusedchange.blogspot.com/2011/06/developing-growth-mindset-how.html

  • http://millennialceo.com Dan Newman

    I agree with Alan here – but I’m glad you recognize the importance of change.

  • http://millennialceo.com Dan Newman

    Alan – I always appreciate the pieces you add to the conversation.

    We must lead change, not just expect it. Otherwise we aren’t really leaders are we?

  • http://millennialceo.com Dan Newman

    I know you get it Natasha – and I always appreciate how you add to the conversation!

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