in the workplace

Transition to Sustainable Progress

Changes. . .transitions. . .once again. As we see indications that meetings can once again safely be face-to-face and at last begin to view the pandemic year from the other side, we can pause and consider the future that we want to see.

What will be next? How will work life take shape? What new methods will we retain, and which abandon in exchange for in-person work? Will life and work life go back to the way it was before covid—and is that what we want for our organizations or for our own lives?

Managing transitions is effectively managing change. The past year of challenges throughout the pandemic has marked us all as we’ve juggled a new way of life facing uncertainty and a lack of control. Both are anxiety-producing conditions, for organizations and on a personal level; we face these issues once again as we begin to move beyond the pandemic. In her TEDx Talk, Brenda Reynolds digs into the topic of transitions, the time when we move from what was to what will be. She offers her perspective on successfully navigating uncertainty and what she calls transformation fog.

Leaders can help their teams navigate these times of transition and change. Victoria M Grady writes in the Harvard Business Review about conceptual tools that leaders can use, one in particular is the power of offering a clear focus on and connection with the organization’s purpose. She also discusses the empowering benefit of offering choices to employees; these could include decisions concerning where and how they choose to work, or in relationship to steps toward future goals and activities in the organization. With the opportunity to control some conditions and choices, workers can be more comfortable handling the transitions they face.

Where do you want your organization to go? You will have to decide on the goals—what do you want to achieve or what changes do you want to see? Has anything shifted in your company’s fundamental mission?

These questions must be answered on a personal level as well: are you on the right path or have you decided to move in a different direction? Too many choices have the potential to overwhelm or add to the anxiety that comes from uncertainty. Don’t let the choices involved in the decision-making process make you freeze. From how we want our morning coffee (milk, steamed milk, foam, no foam, not to mention flavors) to where we get our news, our days are filled with decisions large and small. These everyday decisions add to our decision fatigue, making it harder than ever to answer the tough questions about work and life. Writer Patrick McGinnis, in his TED Talk, reviews ways to make decisions faster.

With a personal or organizational goal pinpointed, we can break it down and get moving simply by identifying the very first and simplest step. Author and leadership strategist Greg McKeown uses the term the “next most viable option” to describe this first movement forward. The point is not to look down the road five or ten steps, but instead look at the smallest action that can be taken. Look up the phone number for person you need to call; begin drafting that email; or start the face-to-face conversation that has been on your mind.

Ready, set, go. Now take that action that you’ve identified. Evaluate the results of the step just completed, make refinements and adjustments as needed, and go through the steps again.

Transitions, or any change, isn’t easy. When we press forward relentlessly we risk burning out before completing the transformation. Sustainability is key, as Greg McKeown mentions in his recent book, Effortless. And pacing yourself is the secret to making that progress sustainable. An outside perspective can also help in establishing a blueprint for the change your organization needs or for assessing your own personal leadership development needs. RoundTable Consulting can provide that clear view; talk to us today about an introductory consultation.

Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations. Find Nancy on LinkedIn or reach out to her to learn more about authentic leadership and her coaching, facilitation, and training services.