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In times of change, keep your focus forward

As we transition to a new year, I’m reminded of a lesson I learned in my early days of driving: when focusing too close on small changes, the road can seem unsteady. By keeping your focus out further, change is more manageable.

In thinking about the road ahead, I’ve leaned on that advice many times over the last few months. Like many of those who use GovDelivery, we are undergoing a lot of change as we transition into 2017. Recently, we announced that we were acquired by Vista Equity Partners, and announced a merger with Granicus, the leading provider of software solutions to improve government efficiency and transparency.

While what lies ahead should be exciting, change can sometimes be daunting. Many of our customers are going through administration change (notably in the US at present), and are looking for help keeping their focus on where their team resources are best placed.

As a leader, it’s my responsibility to focus the team on the right part of the road. Here are some helpful tips (and I hope you’ll share yours!) as we embrace 2017:

  1.     Plan as much as possible 

There will be surprises, but being disciplined about sticking to what we know helps reduce the impact of those surprises. List out every known change, and assign a due date to understand the duration. The sooner you plan and get started, the better the chances are of a peaceful adoption. My driving metaphor for this would be: small turns = smooth ride = happy passengers.

  1.     Watch your speed 

Document how your team reacts to change. Look for signs that change is too fast and furious and find places where it can be adjusted. Take a look at the single most stressful change for your team – can you break it into a series of smaller changes, over a longer duration? There are times to stock up on caffeine and drive straight through, but keep those to a minimum if you can.

  1.     Provide context 

Why the change? What will the future look like? When you’re explicit about the endpoint or objective, people better understand the path to get there.

  1.     Dodge perfectionism 

It’s important to be decisive, but when circumstances change (because they will) you can change your mind/process/plan right along with it. It’s a scenic drive sometimes, but better to get started with a decent plan than delay the entire trip. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.

  1.     Prevent road rage or aggressive driving 

This one is tough, because it involves other people in other vehicles that you can’t control. One of my team members Garret Saarinen, who is GovDelivery’s Operations Manager, taught me to assume positive intent. When receiving feedback, assume the person giving it to you thinks you’re great and wants to make you even better. When giving feedback, assume the person receiving it has good intentions, too. Assuming positive intent can build trust, speed up outcomes, and make for a more enjoyable ride.

The way we behave during times of uncertainty has an impact on the entire team. Stay calm, trust your instincts, and enjoy the ride. Nobody likes a nervous, jerky driver. The best we can do is find the right part of the road to focus on, fill the car with thoughtful passengers, and focus on the way forward – and you’ll go further together than you could ever go alone.

Cindy Hoops is the Director of Implementation at GovDelivery and her team enable clients to drive measurable success with their GovDelivery integrations.