Managing Transitions

“You should feel lucky to have a job in this current economy.” We hear this more and more recently as the unemployment rate jumps up to 14%. Yet we sometimes forget the nonprofit sector has, like many other industries, experienced significant turn over. Whether hiring for existing positions or creating new employment opportunities, managing transitions will be a part of our work lives.

MNA is experiencing a large change in our workforce with four key leadership positions changing. As we were examining our work to fill these important positions, the MNA Board pointed out some important issues we all might want to examine as we deal with the inevitable – people leaving our organizations:

1. Change happens. It’s how we structure our responses that make the difference between positive and negative change.

2. The current flood of talent due to layoffs in the for-profit sector makes this a buyer’s market.

3. Use vacancies as opportunities to shake up the organization’s structure.

For the person leaving a position, the change can obviously be disruptive and challenging. In a recent article in the Lansing State Journal, McCarthy and Blanchard offer great advice on managing your exit.

• Remain positive. Rather than wallow in self-pity or give in to the temptation to blame others, use the situation to position yourself for the future. Convey optimism that the right opportunity is ahead.

• Say good things about your employer. Focus on the positive aspects of the experience and communicate those to one and all.

When a close colleague left a blue-ribbon company to start her own consulting business and people wondered why, she said: “It was a great place to be and it’s a great place to be from.”

• Be thankful. Express gratitude for the chances you had and the lessons you learned. Thank the people who helped you along the way either in person or with a thank-you note.

Positioning our organizations and ourselves in this job market can be challenging, but great opportunities are available if we position ourselves and our organizations.

Submitted by Kyle Caldwell



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3 Responses

  1. Be thankful. Express gratitude for the chances you had and the lessons you learned. Thank the people who helped you along the way either in person or with a thank-you note.

    Great point, Kyle. Gratitude is what keeps me going each and every day and keeps me motivated as a VISTA member.

  2. Oddly enough, the attitudes of colleagues, family and friends can be among the biggest deterrents when you’re being positive about what generally is a negative change (losing your job under any circumstances). When I found out nearly four months ago that my job would be eliminated two months later, I was quickly able to find peace with and meaning in the situation, and I set my sights on having a positive and productive last couple of months. As I put it, I refused “to have a lame-duck session,” instead working just as hard as I always had and focusing on the positives of the situation. A strange thing happened, though. People around me thought I should be angry, fight the system or at least not work as hard. My refusal to succumb to these sentiments taught me a great deal about my own strength and character.

    Also, I would suggest that people only take Ms. McCarthy’s and Ms. Blanchard’s advice if they sincerely feel that way. Fortunately, my peace and perspective allowed me to be positive during a difficult time without having to force or fake it. Had I not been “feeling it,” it would have been obvious. That’s when people should probably employ a slightly revised version of an old adage: “If you can’t (sincerely) say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

  3. […] Managing Transitions by Michigan Nonprofit Association […]

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