Yesterday we worked with my horse, Cash, on better transitions -- moving smoothly from the walk to the trot and back down again. Like most of us, and even our businesses, Cash can get a little "sticky" in the transition -- he will sometimes get tense anticipating the change. I can feel this as a rider when his gait gets choppy, I can see it from the ground in a tension throughout his body.
The worst part of this stickiness? It's unpredictable.
Until now, I've just been riding through it. But it's a lot of work, it's not making Cash more comfortable, and when riding a tense horse, there's always the possibility of a blow-up.
Your team may react the same way -- getting a little "sticky" with change. You might see this as stress, tension, irritability, push-back, grumbling and even poor performance.
I see this every day when law firms attempt to implement new marketing systems, without first preparing their staff for the change. In the worst cases, the marketing initiative is abandoned and considered a failure.
This is really a failure of leadership, failing to lead through the transition.
So -- how can we smooth out those transitions?
With Cash, the first thing I did was decide to stop just riding (or pushing) through the tension. I got off and worked with him from the ground -- on his level. I showed him how I was going to ask the question -- ask for the transition -- and gave him time to prepare for it. When Cash became comfortable with the question and had time to prepare, his tension vanished. His walk was smooth and relaxed, the transition up was easy, the trot was reliable and smooth, and when asked again, he transitioned back down with ease.
How might this apply to you as the leader of your firm and your team?
Are you just riding your team through the transitions, pushing from the top down, insisting on compliance and dealing with the fallout?
What if you could lead your team through the transitions? How powerful would that be? How much more might your team achieve? Not to mention how much more enjoyable it would be to work together.
Think about it the next time you make a change in your firm. Be mindful of how you are Leading Through the Transitions. And let me know how it turns out!