Ten Factors in Making an Effective Transition

by Glen Fahs on August 15, 2016

in Employee Engagement


Leading your organization in a competitive environment requires innovation and navigating transition effectively. Some factors you can control — or at least significantly influence — while others you can’t. Involving employees early in preparing for and implementing changes helps prevent failure and regret.

Here are ten specific ways to honor both the past and employees’ feelings so they can move effectively and confidently into the future:

  1. Expected or unexpected? Surprises scare people. Fear creates suspicion, distrust and negative thinking. The more we prepare people for possibilities, the more maturely they handle them. For example, concealing the likelihood of a layoff undermines the spirit of those who go and those who stay.
  2. Clear or vague rationale? Words like “restructuring to be more efficient,” or “getting closer to our customer” sound good, but need to be backed up with what was working, what was not, what will be better and why change is needed now.
  3. Desirable or undesirable? Those who don’t plan the change may be suspicious of management’s claims that everything about it will be great. Leaders need to acknowledge the risks and the undesirable effects at the individual and the organizational level. Doing so improves a leader’s credibility.
  4. Leadership is visibly committed or only talks a good game? Top managers love to say, “People are our most important asset,” but often value technology more than employees. Commitment includes giving recognition to those who support the change and getting involved personally.
  5. Thoroughly or poorly planned? Glitches are inevitable but clumsiness is a sign of questionable competence and an uncaring attitude — two major factors in justifying distrust.
  6. Emerging over time or sudden? If change is built on a foundation of gradual improvement then employees will be less threatened, more able to make adjustments and more confident.
  7. Fully or poorly supported? Management needs to provide ample support and resources to ensure the success of a change initiative. Otherwise, employees may suspect it is not for real or that it is doomed to failure.
  8. Employees have choices or all decisions have been made by management? Even if the input is only on mundane matters, employees feel respected and are more likely to own changes when they are consulted. They don’t require getting their way but want to have their say and have leaders treat their views as important.
  9. Constructive efforts are reinforced or only negative resistance gets attention? Critics offer valuable input, as do fervent supporters. But self-centered saboteurs should be invited to engage – not be coddled.
  10. History of success or failure? Having a track record of being and feeling like winners, overcoming adversity, and sharing an inspiring vision are all powerful drivers toward the next challenge. Start small with experiments, learn from the success and failures of others, and adjust creatively as you go.

Change is challenging. Handling it well is critical to success now and to building a resilient culture that not only survives but thrives.

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