Five Key Tasks Triggered by Change

Published: February 8, 2023

The period that follows upheaval is usually a time to regroup. Depending on the nature of the change, teams either recalibrate goals or focus their resources on healing. Which way the energy gets directed usually depends on whether the change was expected or unexpected – and whether the response was proactive or reactive.

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.

  1. Honor the accomplishments of the current team.
  2. Define the future state.
  3. Decide what to protect moving forward.
  4. Discard the obsolete and adopt the best practices of your peers.
  5. 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.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.