Do You Create New Beginnings or Smooth Transitions?

I’m starting a project with a new client. I’m getting to know her team. I’m drafting project briefs and timelines. I’m outlining goals, getting buy-in, asking about potential roadblocks, and generally enjoying the opportunity to bring fresh eyes to a project.

It got me thinking about the morale boost that exists at the start of something. You know, the very beginning. My approach, my attitude, my processes…they’ve all be filled with energy, direction, and positivity. I started to wonder whether I had gotten better at working? Had I really hit my stride as a consultant? Or was it something else?

And then I realized, I had the benefit of a new beginning. And as we all know, new beginnings are pretty rare in organizational culture.

When I think back on my life as salaried employee, with a nice long work tenure, I vividly remember a lot of transitions, as I prepared for staff to roll on/off, as events came/went, or as projects began/ended.

But a fresh start? Nope. I don’t remember intentionally ever creating a moment(s) like that.

And in hindsight, as a manager, that feels like a real miss.

People in general (and teams) thrive on clarity – of roles and responsibilities, of project goals, of what success will look like. When a team is being built, it is easy for a manager to do this. This is as close to a beginning as you’ll get. If you are building your team from scratch, you have the opportunity to write job descriptions, outline a team structure, and determine the workload for each of your new hires. However, as your team gets up and running, creating “a beginning” becomes harder and harder. And, if you have a well-functioning team, who has worked together for years, you may find yourselves in a fluid work flow (ah, manager nirvana!), which also means you are at risk for being stuck in a bit of a mindset rut.

Don’t get me wrong. Team chemistry is highly sought after. As a manager, I reveled in building a team. As captain, it was my job to find the right people for the roles I needed, support them in being successful at those roles, and then refine the work/process so that we achieved our goals. This isn’t an easy job but get it right and you’ll find yourself in an environment that embodies the magic trifecta of friendship, efficiency, and success.

But it can’t and doesn’t last forever, and when there is change (small or large), I now think I did my team a disservice by “creating a smooth transition”.

“Smooth transitions” mean you simplify and avoid the problem. You rush past a reset in favor of keeping things moving forward. You avoid disrupting anyone’s (or everyone’s work) out of fear that temporary uncertainty will make the whole house crumble and undo all of your hard work.

I get it. I’ve been there.

But now consider this. What about giving your team the chance to unload baggage? What about hearing their ideas on ways to work better? What about airing and addressing the roadblocks that exist? What about creating a new beginning, where morale is naturally lifted and reset?

These are the possibilities you create with new beginnings.

Let’s all get a little more intentional about these resets. Given the work groove I’m in now, I know I will. Cheers!

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