3 Tips for Effective Transitions


Earlier this week, we made the transition from our Hawaiian vacation to “real life” in the Twin Cities. It was both a physical and mental/emotional transition. It required thought, planning, and effort. This got me thinking about transitions in general: vacation back to home and work; handing off a responsibility to another person; changing jobs; completion of a project and commencement of another; and so on. We experience transitions everyday—some big and some are small, such as transitioning from work to home at the end of a day. How much effort does anyone typically put into creating an effective transition, though?

What does an effective transition look like?

I think the hallmarks of effective transitions include the following:

  • Maintain consistent (or even higher) level of output.
  • No confusion in roles and responsibilities both before and after.
  • Increased attention to mission and vision.
  • Higher commitment and engagement from involved individuals.

Transitions that are not planned well (and we’ve all experienced those) are accompanied by “dropped balls” and loss of productivity, confusion about who does what and how and when, lack of attention to what’s important, and frustration for everyone involved. How do we avoid all of that?

Here are three tips to help you experience effective transitions.

Take stock of what was and where you are coming from.

  • What lessons have you learned, or can you learn, from what you are leaving?
  • How have you changed—not just what you know and know how to do, but how have you changed as a person?
  • What skills have you acquired and how will they be useful in the future?
  • What people connections have you created that need to be carefully fostered in the new future?

Evaluate the road ahead. What does the new journey look like?

  • What is known about the future and how will your recent and distant past experiences contribute to your effectiveness going forward?
  • What is unknown about the next phase? What gaps of knowledge and skills need to be filled?
  • What strategies will you use to resolve critical gaps? (Note that not all gaps are critical and they may not need resolving.)

Leave well.

  • When transitioning out of one situation there is a natural tendency to let down our guard because the perceived risks are reduced. The commitment and engagement levels are reduced. However, this is a false conclusion. How you leave—the professionalism and respect you maintain while moving out of one phase and into another may have a dramatic impact on your future beyond what is next. In short, don’t burn any bridges. In fact, make them stronger.

Here is a way to capsulize what I’m trying to say:

  • What gift can you leave for the people, project, or responsibility you are leaving?
  • What value can you add to where you are going?

Find the answers to those two questions, and implement them, and you will have an effective transition.

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.

Photo by author.

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