The most common examples these days are the transitions driven by the departures of Baby Boomers and the arrivals of Gen Xers in leadership roles. Most organizations have a few years to prepare for these natural handoffs, yet some wait until the retirement party to manage the impact on the team.
The clock is always moving. Other than how low the sun happens to be in the sky and the length of the shadow it casts, most changes are fully predictable. With the exception of tragedy and bad luck, most transitions can be foreseen.
Besides naming heir apparent successors, the business of managing change has extremely obvious tasks.
- Honor the accomplishments of the current team.
- Define the future state.
- Decide what to protect moving forward.
- Discard the obsolete and adopt the best practices of your peers.
- Map out a path from current state to change state to future state.
These five steps are much easier when planned, facilitated, and implemented with intention. Losses are mourned. Mission is restated. Goals are redefined. Roles are clarified. Unless, of course, the transition catches the team by surprise. Then, it’s a scramble.
Even then, the same five steps need to occur. We need to celebrate the contributions of those heading for the exits. We need to listen to the perspectives of the fresh minds poised to lead for the next two decades. We need to understand the circumstances of both those who rush ahead and those you drag behind – both have their reasons for supporting or resisting the change.
Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.