Both of my sons are graduating this year. One onto post secondary education & one to grad school! I cannot believe how fast the time has flown by. And to tell you the truth, I have been emotional about all this change....and thanks to a Facebook post last week I realized why.
It's not that the boys are leaving (they well might do that), it's that they have been successful in completing this step in their lives and are ready to move onto that next big step. Scary for them (though they will not admit that!) and scary for me too!
- Did we do everything we could to prepare them for what comes next? (as much as we could without a crystal ball)
- Are we ready to let them go? (not really & yes! at the same time)
- Where do we fit now? (still as their support, confidantes, sounding-boards, shoulders to cry on....etc)
It took me a few days & a few long walks to figure this out. And then I started to think about how this same scenario plays itself over and over again in life - in my client's businesses and in our communities.
These are called Necessary Endings or as Dr. Henry Cloud talks about "pruning to grow". I tend to think about this as the endings/beginnings loop.
Some endings/beginnings in our lives and our businesses are necessary so that we can all grow; all be better; all have the chance to step up. It does not mean that what we have done to this point is pointless...it means we have done what we could to make others successful and by moving into new stages or roles gives the opportunity to shed some of the trappings of the past, and look to develop new skills, features and take on new challenges.
In the case of the boys - they are not really at an ending, but at a new beginning - contemplating courses of action, next steps for the next few years and more. We can choose to see this time of life in either lens.
In the case of organizations - succession planning and growing talent, that sometimes stays within, or sometimes leaves can be seen through the same two lenses - an ending or a new beginning.
Our role as leaders is to help everyone involved cope with the changes that will come from these endings/beginnings....including those that are doing the actual moving. Here are 3 clear ways to help the team deal with this:
- be as transparent as possible - in the world of privacy & confidentiality policies, this may seem difficult so by being clear about the steps that will take place and how people will be affected, you can still provide a level of transparency that helps everyone stay engaged
- be available - people will have questions that don't come to them right away - allowing time for contemplation, reflection and listening will help everyone deal with the new situation
- be ready to observe - sometimes what we plan on doesn't work out the way we want it to. Be ready to observe what is happening in the business/organization that is causing concerns or that can be an indicator of success & then, share it - transparently.
Reflect on your endings/beginnings from the past 6 months....where will you head in the next 6 months?