Over time, the institutional knowledge and impact of the founders, original leaders, and employees of an organization can be taken for granted. It can be difficult to envision the organization without their vision and commitment, so planning can be inadequate when it comes to people.
Sometimes, it seems easier not to think too far in the future, and reflect primarily on current issues and challenges, but standard procedure includes succession planning for the future. This applies to every level of the organization, staff, officers, long-term consultants, board members, volunteers, and stakeholders of many types.
Whether you are part of a family business, a non-profit, a corporation, or any organization, planning for the future means planning for people change and transition. Particularly challenging is the unique approach that must be taken when an organization is going through the succession of its founding participants, for the very first time.
Embrace Your Organizational People Change
- Know your History – If you have a history of successful transitions, determine what has worked and what has not. Be explicit and record the process that worked and those changes that will make change better in the future.
- Seek New Firsts – Organizations that are on the cusp of losing most or all of its founding team members should acknowledge that they are on the verge of a new and exciting change. Plan accordingly, because there is limited institutional knowledge and experience in this area. Communicating about the plan and creating opportunities for active listening will increase acceptance and minimize fear.
- Get the Facts – Evaluate and review current demographics for likely transition trends. This is the “who” and “when” of the process. From the facts, a plan can be developed for gradually adding new people with sufficient time for on-boarding and integration into the organization.
- Transition prudently – The most successful organizations know how people leave the organization is at least as important as how they join. Adequate time and attention should be devoted to the change management process. Keep in mind that everyone crosses the threshold of change many times in their career. Organizational culture is best served by doing this well.
- Capitalize on Institutional Knowledge – Setting up appropriate connections for those leaving the organization will preserve and nurture institutional knowledge, wisdom and history.
- Create the Foundation for Future Success – Creating change for the future means building on the foundation of the past. This entails a rigorous exercise to determine what served well in the past, but needs to change, what should be preserved, as well as how to integrate new people, ideas, and approaches.
- Allow Time – The overall plan for people change should be tied into the strategic process for the organization. People change is greater than a tactical initiative. Allow enough time for the organization and its people to absorb the change and to execute the plan for maximum positive impact.
Strategy & Planning: People Change – The First Time Around… ©Change Create Transform 2016