There are two aspects of the learning and adaptation process:
Change: when something in new and different, and
Transition: the psychological and emotional reaction that we experience as a response to living through the change.
Leaders and their employees can brace for change and growth, and I still see them struggle to deal with the loss that comes along with it.
Leaders need to pay attention to both change and transition. They need to lead the implementation of change and be empathic enough to bring people through the transition. The product or service still has to get out the door. The process may change – but the change comes about through people.
When change is derailed, it’s often because the ball is dropped on the people side of things. When people become stuck, change initiatives stall or fail. People don’t make the emotional transition when leaders don’t get their buy-in or help them along through the process. Sometimes leaders actually undermine their own progress.
The answer is to build trust. I know that lately there is a lot being written about the great distrust people have in their leadership. Trust is built through authenticity. When a leader is seen as someone who possesses integrity and honesty, it generates trust from others. It means going from managing the structure of change to connecting to the emotional experience of transition. It requires an open, honest and direct leadership style. It demands the skills of communicating in an effective, straightforward, and compassionate manner.
Leaders are better able to connect to the emotional aspects of transition if they can engage at a personal level with the impact of change in their own lives. If we are in this together, we need to see how we are all in this together.
The Structural Side: Visioning; Reengineering
Change: reorganizing; restructuring
The People Side: Letting go; Grieving
Transition: Rebuilding; Faith and hope; Learning anew
Want to have a successful experience?
Seek hands-on involvement from senior leadership
Gain credibility early on
Don’t let up
Explore behaviors and emotions tied to change and transition
Establish and protect trust
Find a balance between managing change and managing transition