Q: How can I help my team be successful after an org. change?

A:  In the book Managing Transitions, William Bridges discusses four steps you can take to help people through a transition.  

Purpose:  Give people a purpose for the new team.  Help them understand a common goal and reinforce that communication and work to get buy in from the team.

Picture:  Help people see a picture of where the team is going, what will be needed, what will success look like, what challenges do you see along the way.  Paint a picture of where you are and where you are going to help the team have a map for your plan.

Plan:  Share your plan for managing the change.  What may seem redundant and like over-communication to you, will probably not seem like over-communicating to your team.  Share the goals and how you plan to get there.  Recognize that people will adjust to the transition at different rates, this is why communicating purpose, picture and plan are so crucial and repetition is useful.

and lastly and importantly:

Part to Play – in transition and in future:  Help people understand the role you need them to play in the transition itself, forming the new team, forming the plans and success metrics for the new organization, figuring out how to merge two teams or consolidate resources.  Help give people tactical things that they can do to have action to take during the transition.  This helps people feel a bit of control over something in the transition, and it is often the uncertainty and lack of control that make transitions difficult.  As important as a role to play in the transition is the part they will play in the final future vision of the team after the re-org.  Make sure you share as much information as you can about how things will work and what part people will play in the new organization.  If it is unclear what everyone will do – communicate that and to the extent that you can, involve the team in helping decide what the final version of the team will look like.

You won’t be able to force people through the phases of transition – ending, neutral zone, new beginning, but you can support them through it.  Recognize and respect the need for people to mourn loss of the old organization/way of doing things.  If there are formal things you can do to allow people to end the old way of doing things, that can be helpful.  Confusion often rules the day in the neutral zone, helping people through the transition by communicating constantly what you know and what is coming up will help.  New beginning is where people start to function and settle in to the new way of doing things.  You will likely have team members in more than one of these phases at a time, don’t try to rush people through the transition, but you can support them through it.

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