Harnessing the Power of Transitions

By Chris Ihrig

Given the economic backlash of the latest recession, today’s leaders are recognizing that transitions are a reality in the business environment, that they’re not going away anytime soon and as a result have begun placing greater importance on building internal competencies and resources to ensure these transitions can be leveraged to ensure a healthy organization. The questions being raised are 1) “does the organization view the competencies that drive transition as a critical factor?” and 2) “does the organization invest in these capabilities?”

Some key lessons learned from proactive transition investments:

  • Transition activities are a reality, not a reaction. Transitioning talent is an ongoing and essential dimension of strategic human capital management. By ensuring the staff has the competencies needed, combined with placing the correct levels of financial resources into the budget, a message is sent that transition activities are a legitimate and expected business reality, rather than only a disappointing and unpleasant management task.
  • Organizations move with confidence and clarity. Organizations that plan for transition events are more confident of executing them in a way that reflects their core culture and values. Although most change is fraught with angst and uncertainty, planning for transitions can actually be used as a powerful way to soften the blows and protecting the cultural fabric from unneeded trauma.
  • People values are reinforced. Transition events can be chaotic, uncomfortable, and seen as reactive work that often grows to be an influential event in the life of the organization.  In contrast, transitions can also be an opportunity to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to valuing people. Organizations that understand the competencies needed for leading transitions utilize these tools to foster employee well-being, demonstrating respect for its people and constructing a stronger employment brand that ultimately attracts and engages the best talent.
  • Managers are empowered to lead in real-time. When resources are built into the annual budgets for transition activities, managers needing to complete layoffs or change out talent that is no longer serving the best interest of the company can move more quickly avoiding action delays while funding rationale is developed and reviewed.

Transitions represent a business truth that is here to stay.  Whether transition moments are planned or they show up like a turbulent tornado, they must be handled in a thoughtful and comprehensive way.  Successful leaders are proactively planning for and investing in the necessary resources to manage these transitions well. No longer is it acceptable to wait to simply react. By placing the necessary systems, structure and competencies in motion early, organizations have what they need to strategically respond utilizing transition moments to gain traction and performance momentum.