6 Principles For A Meaningful Transition

By Tom Schramski, PhD

Volume 1 Issue 9, May 27, 2014

I often joke with clients that I needed six months of intensive psychotherapy after I sold my first healthcare business.  Like most humor, there was a nagging truth in it because I was ill-prepared for the inevitable post-transition adjustment period.  At one point, I even thought, “If they (the employees) had really loved me, they would have tried to talk me out of it.”  Go figure.

My experience and those of many clients since have taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of preparation for the transition.  Whatever your circumstance may be, here are six principles to consider for your transition:

  • Before your final decision to transition out of your organization, establish the goals and objectives for your exit.  In a sense, you need to create a vision of your future that encompasses your personal and professional possibilities.
  • Focus on separating the ends (goals) of your transition from the means or tactics.  One of the biggest challenges of many business leaders is staying away from minutiae and paying attention to the ultimate goal of their life change.
  • Savor the transition period as much as possible despite the challenges along the way.  Doing so typically reduces the shock of a sudden departure after you close the deal, cash the check, and turn in your keys.
  • As best you can, support the success of the new owners, and possibly your co-owners, if you are staying around for some time post-transaction.  While there may be some financial incentive for your continued affiliation, your goodwill is also good for your emotional well-being.
  • During the transition process, encourage communication to your existing employees as well as the “new guard” that is coming aboard.  By addressing the understandable anxiety of most people, you help to stabilize the situation for everyone.
  • As you get closer to your transition, make sure to build your new network of family, friends, peers, and others.  It won’t be the same as before, but that doesn’t mean your life won’t be just as rich.

There is a theme in these principles:  while attending to the needs and dreams of others, you can also nurture your own.  Thoughtful preparation obviously assists your co-workers, customers, and community in building a new future, and it may produce even greater benefits for you.