Just One Thing: Managing Transitions

“We are good at change, but bad at the internal transition.”

On September 8, Ned Cooney, Program Director of NpDP, made that true statement as a part of his two-part presentation on Managing Transitions. Particularly in the nonprofit world, we are good at change. We adapt to the changing needs of the community. However, as we adapt to that external change – perhaps a new program – we often neglect to adapt internally; that is, we neglect how the transition will affect us and our colleagues and employees internally.

For example, this can be apparent when a change is announced by management. The leaders who have wrestled with the decision to make a change have had a chance to process how that transition will affect them. In the instance of a new program, they have already processed how that the new workload will affect them. But, when the change is announced to the staff, the staff have not had that same opportunity to process how that transition will affect them. The management is ready to move on; the staff is showing signs of resisting that transition. They are excited about the new program, the change; they just haven’t processed through the transition of how the workload will affect them yet.

Cooney offered up a framework to manage that transition better. He discussed paying attention to the endings, knowing that a neutral zone of processing the transition will occur and needs to occur, and, finally, looking at the new beginnings. He discussed creating an actual Transition Plan along with the operational plan – the nuts and bolts plan of how the change will be implemented. In that Transition Plan, he offered a outline to follow.

Part II of the Managing Transitions discussion will dive into the elements of that Transition Plan. If you didn’t have an opportunity to attend the September 8 Brown Bag, please make plans to attend the Managers Forum on September 22 from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm at the Conference Room at First Montana Bank in Kalispell. A brief overview and the full handouts will be given at the beginning of the Managers Forum. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

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