In a few short days we will be saying farewell to 2016 and greeting 2017. The phrase, “Out with the old, in with the new,” is echoing everywhere, describing the transition that is marked by the change in the calendar. What does this mean for you and for your team? Are you ready for the change that is coming?
As a leader, your role is help your team navigate the transition from old to new in the best way possible. Successful transitions require careful reflection, not just wholesale change. Here are a few suggestions for ringing in the New Year in the best way possible.
Recognize that it is okay to let go There are some attitudes, behaviors, and experiences that are best left in the past. Work with your team to clearly identify what will be left behind – and why. Long-standing traditions may have outlived their usefulness. Lingering conflicts need to be resolved. Disappointments or failures should become important as lessons rather than regrets. Honor the value of what will be released. Appreciate the effort that was expended, even when the result was not what you had hoped. Make sure that team members who invested time, energy and emotion in something that is ending are recognized for their contributions. Help your team understand that letting go frees space for something better to come along.
Plan the transition with intention Reflect carefully on what will be different in the future by making an honest assessment of what worked and what didn’t in the current year. Set new goals and expectations that are realistic, but require a bit of a stretch. No one gets excited about standing still or falling backward. Make a renewed commitment to the good things that you will be retaining for the future – they are the foundation upon which your new success will rest. Make sure to look at the changes to be made from both the big picture and the small details. Engage visionary team members in forecasting the big picture for the future and charge detail people with looking at the components of each area to be adjusted. Work together as a team to craft a complete vision of the year to come.
Prepare for the in-between time Making change is not like flipping a light switch – off one minute, on the next. It takes time for people to become accustomed to a new normal, even when it is a happily-anticipated change. As a leader, you need to recognize that not everyone on your team makes adjustments at the same pace or with the same attitude. Work closely with team members who are reluctant to let go or hesitant about what is to come. What might ease the transition for them? Do they need more information, support or time? Is the gap between old and new too wide for them; do they need an interim or adjustment period? Model the attitude and approach to change that you want to see in your team.
Embrace the new with energy, excitement and enthusiasm Your team members look to you to help shape their attitude and acceptance of what is ahead. If you cling to the past or seem reluctant to let something go, you can be certain that others will follow suit. If there are rough waters ahead it is particularly important for your team to feel your confidence that together, you all will find your way to smoother sailing. As a leader, when you acknowledge that change is not always easy, you give the team permission to feel the same way – and then you can cheer yourselves on as you make the change anyway!
At this time of year, when it is “out with the old, in with the new,” be a change leader for your team and Increase Your Impact!
Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership IQ expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being witty, wise and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies that get real world results.