I remember the day I was invited to be part of a newly created team at a large corporation. Its reputation was sterling: the benefits to employees great, and the opportunity to be part of the actual birth of something new was rare and wonderful. There were stumbles and starts as we worked diligently to serve the company and its customers well.
Six months later, on a Tuesday, the news was delivered.
“We’re making some changes.”
Departments were reorganized, leadership shuffled, and pink slips delivered. New bosses quickly issued new rules of the game and employees did their best to adapt. My one teammate was laid off, and I was given a new title, new responsibilities, and new goals. With the change, I was also given new authority—authority that included managing people.
A few months later, on a Tuesday, the news was delivered.
“We’re going to do a little reorganizing.”
All in all, six of those Tuesdays would come and go in the five years I was there—all in response to things like economics and consumer behavior and competition and new ideas seeming more exciting than existing plans. Change was sweeping and feverish—and it never lasted. In fact, it didn’t take long before those of us at the corporation would say, “If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for a change.”
Through it all, I learned a lot about being flexible and action-posable as an employee in the midst of change. And more importantly, I learned valuable lessons about both serving and leading through change. I wish someone would have taught me in college about managing change wisely before I ever launched my career, but there’s nothing like on-the-job training—and that corporation offered a LOT of training.
No matter what happens in your career, you can count on change.
Change comes in all shapes and sizes – from new positions, new responsibilities, new teammates, and promotions to layoffs, takeovers, and new management.
How you manage—or invest—in the change you’ve been given is essential for your growth and for the health of the organization you serve.
When we are given a new opportunity — especially a position of leadership — no matter the length of our resume or the reason we got there, we only have a limited amount of “change” in our pocket. Even if there’s no external pressure, it’s easy to want to quickly prove ourselves as wise, capable, and worth the investment. We pull out the change we think needs to happen and map big plans to spend it, oftentimes without truly having a clear idea of what our destination should look like. And we can cause more harm than good. We can destroy trust, lose respect, and even damage the credibility of the organization.
A pastor I worked with for years used to remind his staff, “Be careful not to overdraw your account with others.” He gets the first of three essentials of managing the change you’ve been given, no matter what that change brings.
INVEST IN PEOPLE.
Take time to get to know the hearts of the people you work with and give time for trust to grow. As the pastor put it: “We always need to be doing things for others that puts change in their pocket for us. If there isn’t much positive in their pocket, then even the little things we do wrong overdraws our account with them.”
New York Times Bestselling author Jon Acuff says, “Every ‘yes’ you say is a silent ‘no’ to something else.” He gets the second essential key in managing the change you’ve been given.
INVEST IN TIME.
Don’t give into the pressure to spend all that “change” quickly. Instead give space and time to prayer, and gain understanding of the benefits and consequences of those changes. Ask questions. Listen well.
And Ken Blanchard says: “None of us is as smart as all of us.” He gets the third essential key in managing the change you’ve been given.
INVEST IN CARE-FULL PLANNING.
The temptation to come up with ideas in isolation—to prove your own worth—will always be there. But Scripture tells us that “without good advice everything goes wrong—it takes careful planning for things to go right.”
Invite people into those plans—even people who may not ultimately be part of them.
Consider ways your team connects with the larger vision of your organization. Allow creativity to flow so new ways of doing things might emerge.
Though you may never experience an “if it’s Tuesday, it must be time for a change” work environment, change will come. I’ve shared three great things to invest in to manage that change well. Now it’s your turn. What investments might you make now, in people, time, and planning—even before change happens—to better equip you to lead well when it does?