Its guest post Monday. This post is by Chris Lautsbaugh who lives in Muizenberg, South Africa. He serves with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), teaching and training missionaries and church leaders. Together with his wife Lindsey, they lead and steward training programs and ministries in and around Cape Town, reaching out to under privileged communities, planting churches, and meeting needs associated with the issues South Africa faces. They have been in missions for 35 combined years. They serve together with their two boys, Garett and Thabo.
Chris blogs at www.nosuperheroes.com and has published a book on grace, Death of the Modern Superhero:How Grace Breaks our Rules. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
Transition is an inevitable part of every team or organization. Many teams have a short life span due to an inability to switch from the pioneer to the successor. I’ve watched this scenario play out multiple times over the last 20 plus years I’ve spent in leadership.
The mark of a long-lasting organization is an ability to transition and change.
We recently underwent a leadership transition in my team. One of my department leaders was moving on. He was part of the pioneering of this particular ministry.
Here are 7 tips you can employ to navigate change:
1. Anticipate Change – Life is full of change. As a leader, you must constantly look ahead in order to anticipate the future. Successful leaders are always on the lookout for their replacement. Your first plan might not work out (ours did not), but you still benefit from forward thinking.
2. Give People Time to Adjust – A leader and his inner circle are often weeks or months ahead in the journey of embracing change. Your people need the courtesy of easing into the transition. Leaders wrestle with the idea, weighing the pros and cons. Give the group time to do the same. Sow the idea of transition in early, giving your people time to adjust, ask questions, and come to grips with the future.
3. But, Don’t Wait too Long – While giving people time to make the switch, if you wait too long it damages your future success. It takes an incredibly disciplined leader to avoid withdrawal, thereby losing the plot when they know they are moving on. A vehicle can only coast in neutral for so long before you must accelerate or turn the steering wheel.
4. Tell the right people first – Nothing is more demoralizing than hearing important information through the grapevine. If you have done a good job at bringing people along, this is natural. Unfortunately, we all know too many stories when the right people found out the wrong way.
5. Point them to the vision not the change – This may be the most important and overlooked feature. People fear transition. It is essential to keep the vision in front of people in the midst of change. If our eyes are not looking forward, we over analysis and obsess over small details. Failure to keep the team focused on the goal can cause us to lose more than the previous leader. We may lose the whole team!
6. Honor the past – A healthy transition honors the hard work which went into where you stand today. Make sure the outgoing leaders are appropriately thanked. This values people and reinforces the current teams desire to give their whole heart to the organization. If they see you treat people well, you don’t need to worry about loyalty.
7. Don’t Blow up the Ship – Encourage the new leader to ease into his or her new vision. This is especially important if promotion has come from outside the existing group. A “get-to-know” each other period with minimal change is in order.
Considering these tips does not guarantee a pain free transition. All change is difficult, even good change.
These suggestions can greatly improve the experience for the people who matter the most…
Those who are staying!
Question: What other tips would you offer from your experiences?