Change management more important than ever

Lindsay Powers

“The year was 2020, kids. Your parents were the same age you are today. I would not do the events of that year justice if I didn’t set the stage properly. The rug was ripped out from under our secure and comfortable footing. We learned some things that year.” — Me, many years from now.  

When business leaders and human resource professionals started this year, big things were on the calendar.  We saw legislative changes on the horizon. We knew an election was looming. Some were simply happy watching Patrick Mahomes lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. 

Things changed. We started to hear reports from China, the cruise ship, Italy. People died. The coronavirus pandemic spread and more people died. Our world shut down. There was a moment of pause. Then followed the hard decisions, discussions, layoffs and closures. We executed “your life is now changed” notices to our peers and friends and did our best to support employees through the transition. Then George Floyd died. Let me rephrase that. We watched George Floyd die. Our lives were split again, and  2020 continued with more division, destruction, fear, despair and lives that matter.  

In the midst of these events, the Western Colorado Human Resource Association strived to do anything the organization could to bring the HR community together. We scheduled the fall conference to talk about “putting out the fire of 2020” and rising up stronger from adversity. Then our beautiful home caught on fire — actual fire. As we watched Colorado burn, even more destruction followed.

We just can’t seem to win this year. But we continue to show up every day and push hard to provide for our families, employees and customers. We have a responsibility to each other to do what we can to persevere.  And we are.  

And then your chief executive officer sends you a text over the weekend. “Hey, got a minute?”

In my time in my organization, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to serve the community alongside one of the most tenacious and passionate leaders I’ve ever encountered. She’s an entrepreneur, community advocate, basketball coach and golden retriever loving, awesome human. In the wake of all that already had occurred in 2020, now this. I was heartbroken. 

But I decided to pause. I looked around at the team she led and the culture in our organization she cultivated.  Then I noticed the spirit within each one of the team members, individually at first but then as a unit. We’re strong, capable, able, willing and, dare I say it, excited.

 Any leadership transition presents a challenge, but losing this CEO felt like the heart of the organization walked away. What makes this exciting, though, is the  team understands not only the effects of the change, but also how to use the strengths of each individual and the group as a whole to bridge the gap. We’re nimble, and we’ll be successful. I also realize we’re the lucky ones.  

Our community will be successful, too. The WCHRA has operated in Western Colorado since 1977 and continues to garner the support of passionate professionals to advance HR.

The WCHRA Fall Conference scheduled for Sept. 30 will focus on change management. Much like examining my own team in the looming CEO transition, it’s important to look to external support and networks to keep moving forward.

The conference — titled “Rising from the Ashes of 2020” — will focus on not only the coronavirus pandemic, but also diversity, legislation and compliance. HR leaders and entrepreneurs will join for presentations and discussions to share expertise and insights. We’ll focus on how to get through transitions and what we need to do. The conference will be offered in person — with responsible social distancing, of course — and online.

John Register will deliver the keynote address in not only telling a great personal story, but also digging into the changes we face. Learn more about John and his story at https://johnregister.com. 

Register for “Rising from the Ashes of 2020” at www.wchra.org and join WCHRA, your HR network and the community to collectively say goodbye to these challenges and come out stronger on the other side.