Slow Down to Get There Fast
Slow Down to Get There Fast
Have you ever completed a big project and thought, Yes! I did it! You were thrilled to be done, yet you quickly fell into a stall, slow, or even depressive cycle?
Just this month I, Susan, finished leading an amazing personal, professional program with 24 participants, and a leadership team of five. It was a very busy month. During the program, I had more energy and less worry than usual. The program was a big success for the participants, the team and myself. Ahh…
Now it’s back to business as usual, and I’m struggling to stay focused and keep my energy up. It's not for lack of exciting new projects and engagements. No, quite the opposite. We have a series of wonderful events on our calendar. However, I have yet to feel fully like myself.
The reason? I am smack dab in the middle of a transition.
You may have felt this way at some point during your career. Today, I'll share some tips for riding through those transitions successfully. Hey, I’m teaching what I need to learn!
Change Versus Transition
Let me define the difference between change and transition. William Bridges, the grandfather of organizational change and transition, has done a great deal of work helping leaders successfully implement large-scale change by identifying, acknowledging, and doing the real work of managing people's transitions.
First, there is the change. Bridges identifies change as the moment something ends and something new begins. For example, in my situation, the program ended on May 12, 2017, at noon, and I arrived back in Montana at midnight that same night – the change.
Second, there’s the transition or the psychological reorientation to a new situation. It’s the time it takes for me to feel at home in Montana. Transition isn't concrete. It’s not the same for every person. Unfortunately, transition is that mushy, touchy/feely stuff that we usually want to trivialize, dismiss or avoid!
Problems occur when transitions are not dealt with. It can be the real reason for failure when it comes to organizational or personal change. When organizations don't work with the human side of change people don't adopt the new system or process. Morale drops. Productivity drops. And the same thing holds true for personal transitions.
My situation, for example, it isn't a large-scale organizational change. My project, the month-long program, ended and was successful. Yet here I am dealing with the same symptoms, low morale, and low productivity.
This happens frequently in the workplace. People successfully complete a big assignment or project and then struggle to find their footing to move forward. Leaders often exacerbate this issue by quickly shifting the focus onto what's next rather than taking the time to acknowledge the success of what just happened, or even a debriefing of the previous project in order to identify lessons learned.
Let’s look at what you can do differently for yourself and your team.
Tip One: Acknowledge and Celebrate
It’s important to take the time to acknowledge and celebrate important milestones. Give yourself and your people a chance to pause, take a breath, recalibrate and celebrate before heading full-on into next big project.
The day after I flew back home, I jumped back into work, but couldn’t seem to come up with much creative juice. Then I realized - well, no wonder. I hadn’t done anything to pause, acknowledge, or celebrate my accomplishment. Once I realized my error, I scheduled a massage and a celebratory dinner. I even went to look at that mountain bike I’d been eyeing before I left.
Even on shorter projects, and especially ones that are intensive, honoring the ending can be critical for sustainability.
Tip Two: Debrief the Experience
Debriefing is a great way for you and your team to digest the experience and understand what is ending and what isn’t, while also identifying what you’ll need to create going forward.
When I took some time to debrief my experience, I realized I had been engaged in an important purpose with the team I’d been working with and that our pace was intense. My schedule was highly controlled, minimizing outside distractions. I had clear meal times and meals made for me. (I bet you can guess that was ending!)
What was also ending was my relationship with the team and our intense short-term purpose and structure. I am back in a far less structured situation where the pace is a bit slower, less focused, and I can easily become distracted.
I realized that what I need to do was create a new way to include structure in my day and design a new routine with what lies ahead. I had been getting up early always taking a morning run. That I could continue.
As far as meals, I decided to join Hello Fresh, which delivers three meals a week. Hey, I still have to cook, but all the ingredients are there for me! That’s progress!
Tip Three: Slow Down to Go Fast Again
In business and as leaders, our desired state is being productive. However, the cost operating at continuously at a peak performance pace isn't healthy or sustainable.
Even race cars slow down around the curves to go fast on the straightaway.
For me, I had been going non-stop for a month with only two days off. I didn’t have much of a chance to notice I was tired, but with less on my schedule, suddenly, I discovered I was quite exhausted.
For yourself and your team, look for signs of transition fatigue: drops in productivity, stalling or feeling down even when what's been done is successful and what lies ahead is exciting.
When you or someone on your team is showing these signs, be compassionate. Pause and ask, “Might this simply be a transition response?” and “What can I do to help myself or my teammate through this slump?”
Don't panic. Productivity will come back! Really.
· Acknowledge and celebrate
· Debrief the experience
· Slow down to go fast again
Don’t just drive through the big changes, take care of transitions all along the way! Not only will you move more quickly, you’ll return with more energy, creativity and purpose.
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke
Coaches, Business Consultants, Speakers and Authors of The Beauty of Conflict
CrisMarie and Susan work leaders and teams, couples in business, and professional women.
They help turnaround dysfunctional teams into high performing, cohesive teams who trust each other, deal with differences directly, and have clarity and alignment on their business strategy so they create great results.
Check out their website: www.thriveinc.com. Connect with CrisMarie and Susan on LinkedIn. Watch their TEDx Talk: Conflict – Use It, Don’t Defuse It! Find your copy of The Beauty of Conflict: Harnessing Your Team's Competitive Advantage here.