Sitting here today in a wet and windy Brighton, I’m caught by the sudden change and transitions that the world around me is making from summer green to golden autumn. After the (thankfully) glorious weather of early lockdown and the heatwave in August, the shift to darker and colder days seems sudden to me this year. But one certain thing in life is that the seasons roll on, no matter how ready we are to move with them.
In previous years, like so many people, I would have spent much of my time travelling for work. Enjoying being face to face with the people I was with. Sitting in meetings and events. The change that 2020 brought to this was unasked for but is something that I have had to adapt to as the year has gone by.
I’ve got to grips with working with new clients I have never met in person. Gone through a massive crash course in how to facilitate and run meetings and workshops online. Adjusted to being in the same place the majority of the time and grown to love being home based and seeing a single view of the world slowly change before me, rather than speed by as I travel past it.
My process through this has been bumpy and not at all linear. The gradual acceptance of what is. The anger against its arrival. The grief for the future I imagined. All have come and (in time) passed. Through this I have progressed in transitioning through the change imposed by a global pandemic to a point where I can gradually start to see opportunity and possibility in what comes next.
In my work, I spend a lot of time talking to people about changes they are looking to achieve. Change and transitions for them as individuals, for the teams they lead or the organisations they’re part of. Over the years doing this I have come to appreciate that the ability to create change is a leadership skill that can really set people apart. And to do that well, we need to pay attention not just to change management but also to how we support the people involved to transition from one state to the next.
In a world that can feel awash with change and transitions, sought and unsought, how then do we allow ourselves and others the time needed to transition when we’re changing fast in several directions at once? In work, as in all other aspects of our lives, we each get to decide for ourselves how we behave, leading to the often-quoted line: organisations don’t change, people do.
The core of the matter then is always about asking people to adapt what they do in line with a change that is coming. And in order to create the conditions where they are most likely to choose to do so, then they need to be supported in understanding why they need to transition and be allowed to find their own pace in doing so. In other words, we need to speak to their feelings as it’s only when the emotions of a change have been worked through fully that people can start to see opportunity and possibility in what comes next.
Have a look at my other blog posts on this here.