No matter how good you build the culture of your organization, business, or church every leader will face team transition. Staff members will come and sadly staff members will go. It is one of the most difficult challenges of team development. But transition is part of leadership.
Over nearly 15 years of leading our church we have had very little staff transition. Most people stay with us a very long time. Well, to be honest, our internal hires last longer than most external - but I believe even that is changing. When a staff member comes into a healthy culture I believe they long to belong to that culture. And that culture is solely on top-level leadership. For our church, Mary (my wife) and I are the top tier of leadership. So, any toxic culture it is our responsibility to catch and correct. For the most part we have done well, not always, but mostly.
But no matter how good you are or your team is or your culture is transition will be part of the process of your leadership (Take some time to read 1 Chronicles 23-25 to discover some of the Old Testament process of transition). Let me give you 4 simple keys to passing the test of transitions.
🔑 EVERY TRANSITION IS A STEP OF FAITH
This is true for the person transitioning out or the leadership that remains. When you release someone from employment or they resign it is a step of faith for all parties. So, these become opportunities to build your faith and trust in God. Don't look at a transition as a negative thing - but an incredible moment for your faith to grow!
It is when we are in transition that we are most completely alive. ~ William Bridges
Now, transition does not feel good in the moment, but once the dust settles and you are able to process it you will have the opportunity for your faith to increase. Let it grow in your season of transition and you will pass the test.
🔑 EVERY TRANSITION HAS LOADS OF RISK
Not only is it a step of faith, but every faith move is filled with risk. If there was no risk it would not be faith. But it is a calculated risk based on faith, wisdom, and counsel. The more input you get the better your outcome will be. Somebody needs to re-read that!!! You see your goal is not to eliminate risk in transition, but to minimize it. So, bring people into the conversation. Let them share with you the pros and cons. But understand you will never be able to mitigate 100% of the potential risks!
🔑 EVERY TRANSITION CREATES NEW OPPORTUNITIES
When someone steps out of your organization it is an opportunity to see how well your leadership pipeline is. Are you developing next tier leaders? If your business, church, or organization falls apart on a staff transition it is usually the result of not developing people.
When you transition everyone kind of has to transition with you. ~Chastity Bono
Transition is an opportunity for you to grow someone else into a new position or make some lateral moves in your organization. In every transition in our churches 15 year history we have bounced back pretty quick. Some took longer than others but we see every transition as an opportunity. Pass the test and embrace transition because there is an opportunity in it.
🔑 EVERY TRANSITION WILL DISRUPT PLANS AND AGENDAS
This is a vital part. With every transition, not just in staffing, but in development, expansion, and restructuring, we easily see people's agendas. Some are good and some are bad. One of the biggest challenges is when someone transitions out others want to "step right in and help you fix it." The problem is that is not their job. Some see it as an opportunity to elevate themselves. But I am not interested in self-promotion at the expense of team-promotion.
EVERY staff member needs to grab this principle: Leadership is my employers to give me, not for me to take! "Put me in coach" is the mantra of a person who tries to push ahead. When you are ready for the field you will not have to ask your coach - your coach will find you. Put in the work and they will notice your effort.
The test of transition is a challenge, but it is also an incredible opportunity for you and your organization! Don't run from the transition, embrace it. God's got good for you and the person transitioning out!