What do you think when you see this sign?

“Oh, yeah!” or “Oh, sh*t!”

If you’re an “Oh, yeah!” kind of person, you’re probably not afraid of industry shake-ups and organizational changes. Bring on the speed! You can’t wait to test your agility, quick maneuvering and technical skills.

If you’re an “Oh, sh*t!” person, chances are this sign scares the crap out of you. All you can think about is how dangerous and out of control things seem. In fact, you’re probably already picturing a most spectacular crash.

But think about this for a second: In each scenario, it’s the Exact. Same. Sign.

This thing is coming. The only difference is how you see it. And what you intend to do about it. You can go down that hill kicking, screaming, and envisioning your inevitable demise or you can lean in and enjoy the ride.

Should you take some practical steps before heading down an unknown path? Of course. Now is not the time to yell “Look, mom! No hands!”

Strap on that helmet. Make sure your tires are full of air and your feet are securely on the pedals. Pay attention to the obstacles in front of you. And put away that dang selfie-stick.

What's your best course?

Whether you’re taking your entire organization in a new direction, leading an organization-wide HR effort, or simply making changes within your own small team, there are some things you can do to make the ride as smooth as possible.

  • Be confident, strong, and committed. No one wants to jump on board with someone who looks scared as hell.
  • Embrace the inevitable, but have a clear and well-thought-out plan. “The ______ is coming. Here’s how we’re going to adjust.”
  • Focus on the positive, but be realistic. “Did I say adjust? I meant flourish! But yes, it’s going to take a little flexibility and a lot of teamwork.”
  • Provide as many knowns as possible. Is this hill 200 feet or 200 yards? What will it look like when we get to the bottom? How long will it take? What should we expect on the way down?
  • Recognize that you probably have “Oh, Yeah!” and “Oh, sh*t!” people on your team. Emphasize that while some things are changing, others are staying the same. Give examples of each so that everyone has something to be excited/relieved about.

Then, when you’re ready, hit it!

If you’ve done your job right, there will be a whole lot more “Wheeeee!” then “Waaaahhh!”

Photo by Kristi Birkeland

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