How we manage disruption dictates how successful we will be in the future

David FullerRecently we were given notice by our landlord that we had six weeks to find a different office space as our current office was going to be needed by a company he had just purchased. The office was, in a sense, the hub of our company, where we gathered for weekly meetings, entertained guests, worked with and trained clients and hosted meetings of change.

But like many good things, our time is coming to an end in this location; there will be a disruption.

Disruption happens when there are significant changes to our structure, competition, facilities or the economy. Disruption can also result from war, peace, or a change in policy or focus. Finally, it can be as simple as a change in direction from emerging strategic decisions to enable our business to succeed.

Whatever the cause, disruption is normal in business, but how we manage our disruption dictates how successful we will be in the future.

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So what is key to managing unexpected disruption?

  1. Look at Disruption as an Opportunity. While disruption can seem devastating and, in some cases, may mean the end of your current business, by taking the point of view that disruption is a positive opportunity to create something better, the experience generally has a happy ending. So often, however, we are caught up in the negative aspects of change, making it difficult to see the positive. Looking at disruption as a positive enables us as a team to move forward optimistically toward a better future.
  2. Create a Plan to Manage Disruption: Whether we are working alone or with a team, the easiest way to feel overwhelmed is to work without a plan. Whether your disruption results from a broken pipe in the business or the loss of your key client, developing a plan saves time and stress in the long run. A plan typically involves creating a roadmap from where you are now to where you want to be. Your plan should involve the people within your organization who will be directly affected by the disruption and any other stakeholders who will be impacted as a result of your plans. By creating a plan, we reduce confusion, create strategy and allocate resources and responsibilities. A plan to deal with the disruption enables our team to be clear about what is expected of them and the timeline to achieve the desired results. This not only takes the pressure off of us as leaders but engages our team, which, in turn, reduces their stress levels in the workplace over the long run.
  3. Communicate Clearly and Often. The most common complaint of employees in organizations we work with is poor communication. In times of disruption, we need more than ever to work on our communication skills within the company. We need to be clear about what is happening and how people, employees, and customers will be affected. Whether you hold town hall meetings, department meetings or one-on-one discussions, getting in front of your people and working through the ramifications of disruption will be critical to your ability to engage and retain your key people.

Change, especially disruptive change, can be challenging to manage. However, the outcomes can often be positive beyond the imagination and possibilities of your current reality. Being positive, coming up with solutions and a plan and communicating those concepts will lead to a pathway of positive change.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc.

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