All of the truisms and catch phrases about change and how it is good for us come rushing in when I am dealing with a particularly unwelcome change for our organization. None more so than when we lose a talented colleague. But as life in pandemic has dragged on, we cannot really be surprised that people’s relationship to their work – and even to their valued colleagues – will be impacted. The statistics of people moving, or even leaving the workforce over the past year are remarkable.
So, I have learned not to take such changes personally (though I’ll confess I sometimes need a day to process): we’ve operated successfully for thirty years, had the opportunity to work with a long roster of fantastic, talented people. Sometimes they make transitions that seem premature; sometimes they are truly overdue. But I’ve learned that it is most important to fully value the time we have with colleagues; genuinely wish them well when they make a move…and then waste no time finding colleagues who enable us to ‘raise our game.’ And I believe it is critically important to first look inside: are there colleagues ready to stretch into a new level of responsibility? Taking a risk on existing talent is for me always a first instinct. It was a long time ago now, but I really DO still remember being a young professional frustrated by the inability of leaders in my organization to see different possibilities. And I learned to speak up. I was fortunate to be given opportunities – sometimes thrown into the deep end of the pool. I know they were the most formative experiences of my career.
Complicating these change management opportunities, of course, is that beyond the challenges of pandemic, we are also all grappling with the overall pace of changes – to our marketplaces, to the business models that we’ve built, to the expectations of employees and customers. I don’t recall who said it but one of my favorite ‘change’ quotes is: “the pace of change will never be slower than it is today.” Wow. Thankfully, one of the things I have come to understand is that some of the colleagues around me are more open to change than I am; they are seeing possibilities that I have not yet seen or recognized. And there is no better time to show openness to new ideas, to taking new risks, than when a departing colleague creates a new space for innovation. These are the moments when organizations take bold steps forward, transition successfully, maybe transform dramatically.
So, to my colleagues at Tunheim and to my peers and friends leading other great organizations: Let’s celebrate change as great opportunity to have some adventure, to learn the scale of our potential, to accomplish great things together. Here’s to the next part of our journey!