What did I step into?

Transitions – Introduction Part 2

The 1st pain point of transitions is at the intersection between your new situation and your strengths and vulnerabilities  While it’s easy and typical to blame transition failure on the new person, failure is never all about the flaws of the leader.  Many leaders have made substantial achivements (isn’t that why he/she was hired?), but can still fail in a new role.  Failures occur when a new leader doesn’t understand the situation they’re in (they could have been told it’s A, when in the reality it’s B, or Z), the preexistence of ticking time bombs, or failure to adapt appropriately to the given situation.

The 2nd pain point is not building momentum to establish your credibility, thereby setting the stage where your credibility is eroded one interaction, one meeting, at a time.  Nothing exists in an equilibrium – we either grow credibility or lose it.

Along the same lines, there are similarities between H1N1 and a new manager.  Both are seen as a foreign body and the host’s (in this case, your new team) immune system instinctively whips into action to isolate then destroy the potentially killer infection (that’s you).  

The 3rd pain point is new managers not using a systematic method in their transition.  While every transition is unique, there is a high level of commonality between transitions and familiar potholes along the journey.  Make transitions a repeatable sucessful process by creating a framework.  Like any framework, your’s will morph over time.  You will continually dust it off, execute, modify, perform postmortems noting what did and didn’t work, then update it accordingly.  In time, I believe Transition Management will become a recognized framework such as with CMM, SixSigma, or ITIL (TMF, “Transition Management Framework”?  I said it first!).


A fundamental definition I learned in The 1st 90-Days, is the STaRS model. Companies, departments, products and/or processes exist in one of four panes of existence:
1. Startup
2. Turnaround
3. Realignment
4. Sustaining success

The key is to match your transition strategy to the STaRS situation you find yourself in.  Once you understand STaRS, which is nothing new, but a way to identify and differentiate the particular business cycle you’re in, and its unique characteristics and challenges (More on STaRS later).

Excelling at transitions can only be positive because it’s commonplace for a person to change roles every 2.5-3 years.  Assuming a transition takes between 3 – 6 months, over the course of your career you’ll be immersed in transition for 3 – 8 years.  Seems to make sense to get very very good at this.

One thought on “What did I step into?

  1. Rick, I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment about being systematic. While everyone’s situation will be unique, proper planning in most endeavors pays dividends. You hear a lot of people say “why plan when the plan will change anyway”, but this of course is the whole reason you have a plan – so you know how to adapt when things change and still get to the right outcome.

    You’re also dead on in your comment about getting proficient at transition – especially if you want to minimize the number you’ll have to go through in your career!

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