Most major organizational overhauls don’t go as planned.
So, fixing a problem takes more than plotting a course of action – it takes fortitude. When you implement changes to increase stagnant revenue or rework a dated process, you also have to ride out the ups and downs that come with transition. Otherwise, you’ll quit before your changes take effect.
But it helps to know what those “ups and downs” might be. In my career, I’ve helped more than 60 organizations navigate transitions, and I’ve experienced the roller coaster you’re going to face. It comes in three phases:
1. The rough start
When you first overhaul a department, process, strategy, etc., you’ll probably experience productivity loss. Your staff might feel overwhelmed by the thought of learning a new process, and they might resist the change. As a leader, you will need to hold fast to your vision and encourage your staff to work toward a new goal. This takes some courage, but if you can address your team’s natural resistance and anxiety, you can push through this phase and work toward improvement.
2. The bottoming out
This phase is a heartbreaker. Your organization might actually experience a decrease in revenue or performance after you implement changes. It takes a while to realize a new vision, and sometimes you have to go through new lows before experiencing unprecedented highs. The trick is, again, to stay your course – stay committed to your vision. Otherwise, your leadership could give up on change entirely and greet future improvements with cynicism. This is dangerous because ministries that can’t adapt to the world around them will inevitably die.
3. The pick-up
If you have the courage to stick to your vision, your organization will survive its initial rough patches to finally experience success. Your revenue and performance will begin to pick up and you’ll see your hard work pay off.
This phase also has its challenges because some leaders get bored at this point. They want to start implementing a new change before the last one is established. Your job is to keep the momentum going at the right pace to make sure your new mode of operation is properly incorporated into your organization’s culture. Don’t move on to another project prematurely. Make sure your success will continue, even after your ministry shifts focus.
Whatever changes your organization is facing, be encouraged knowing that if you stay the course, positive results can happen. And if you want to know more about how to successfully lead your ministry through a transitional period, check out my Dunham Institute course, Managing Change for Growth.
More Insights from Dunham+Company: “What Should I Expect From My Donors?”