March 2012: Sustaining Employees in Transition

In this Issue

Opening Remarks

Transitions are stressful times for everyone involved, and perhaps more so for employees who may not feel like they have much control over what’s happening. In this edition of Transforming Challenges, Senior Consultant Maureen Gallagher suggests some tools for leaders to use to support their employees through the transition.

At The Reid Group, we have a passion for helping leaders and organizations transform their challenges into opportunities to create a better world. One of the ways we do that is through this e-letter, Transforming Challenges. Is there someone you know who could benefit from receiving it? Forward this edition to them and encourage them to subscribe for themselves. They’ll thank you—and so do we!

The Reid Group News

  • The Diocese of Victoria, B.C. has hired The Reid Group to conduct a Chancery review. over the next several months, John and Tom Reid will work with diocesan staff to review and make recommendations on the optimum configuration and workload for Chancery offices.
  • The Tacoma Dominicans, working with The Reid Group, officially launched a multi-year futuring and fund development process in February 2012. The entire community gathered in Tacoma for a full day retreat led by Tom Reid and Susan Secker. The multi-year process is designed to assist the community with its decision-making and fund development challenges as members age and face diminishing personnel pools.
  • St. Augustine and Our Lady of Victory parishes in the South Bronx, with the assistance of John Reid and Maureen Gallagher and under the leadership of Fr. Tom Fenlon, officially merged on February 5. Following a closing liturgy at the largely African-American parish of St. Augustine, parishioners processed down Webster Ave., led by a marching band, to Our Lady of Victory where the mainly Hispanic parishioners greeted them with signs of welcome. The event received write-ups in both the diocesan newspaper and the Wall Street Journal.
  • John Reid has been hired to facilitate post-chapter meetings of the Franciscan Friars of the St. Barbara Province (includes the states of Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona).
  • The second in the education series “Strengthening Catholic Identity,” produced in partnership between The Reid Group and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, will be published at the end of March. The topic for this installment is “Visibly Catholic.”

So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us ane-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.

Quotes for Inspiration and Action

Do not stand on a high pedestal and take 5 cents in your hand and say, “here, my poor one”, but be grateful that the poor one is there, so by making a gift you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect.
Swami Vivekananda

It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.
Mother Teresa

Effective leaders help others to understand the necessity of change and to accept a common vision of the desired outcome.
John Kotter

If you wish others to believe in you, you must first convince them that you believe in them.
Harvey MacKay

Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment.
Rita Mae Brown

Feature Focus

Supporting Employees through Times of Transition


Maureen Gallagher, Senior Consultant,
The Reid Group

Internal reorganization, downsizing and succession planning can be times of high employee anxiety. The uncertainty of the future brings about various kinds of stressful environments. Even if an employee’s job is not directly affected, the transitions and changes in the lives of fellow employees has an emotional impact on all.

Five steps can be taken to lessen the stress brought about by transitions in the work force:

First, it is important for the leader or leadership team, whether it be CEOs, pastors, principals bishops or others in leadership positions to create and exhibit an attitude of caring. Acknowledging the pain and suffering the new situation is generating is a first step in letting people know you care. Being available to employees and recognizing their concerns goes a long way in letting people know you care.

Second, listen deeply and demonstrate that you have heard the distresses, the hurts, the perplexities. Deep listening means standing in the shoes of the other as he or she struggles with the necessities such as health insurance, paying mortgages, tuitions, etc., or in the case of restructuring of jobs, the need to learn new skills or work in new departments and augment relationships.

Third, engage in dialogue about needs and concerns. Some of the dialogue needs to focus on internal issues such as timelines, ideas for next steps, reducing stress, building a positive momentum. If jobs are being eliminated, some dialogue needs to be concentrated on external needs such job transitions and practical items such as severance pay and health insurance, etc.

Fourth, secure transition resources. It is important to transition well, even when resources are limited. Providing for sessions dealing with loss and letting go for all employees is important.
Offering inservices for those involved in the new structure makes fresh beginnings possible for veteran as well as new employees. Recognizing feelings as well as being clear about the purpose and direction of the new entity is important. For instance, if parishes are to merge, or departments be reconfigured, or hospitals are to be consolidated, it is important for the employees to have some input into the future realities. This increases ownership and decreases resistance.

Fifth Max DePree in Leadership is an Art, states the first job of the leader is to define reality and the last is to express gratitude. Genuine expressions of gratitude, made as specific as possible, are extraordinarily valuable during times of transition. It is one thing to lose one’s job due to economic conditions, personnel decisions or advanced technology. It is another to lose it with no sense that one has made significant contributions to the organization. Genuine expressions of gratitude are extremely significant in helping both individuals and organizations move forward.

The pain of transitions can never be eliminated. However, by considering the steps outlined above, a leader can truly make a difference in how people and companies move forward.


Leadership Is an Art 
Max DePree

Leadership Is An Art has long been a must-read not only within the business community but also in professions ranging from academia to medical practices, to the political arena. First published in 1989, the book has sold more than 800,000 copies in hardcover and paperback. This revised edition brings Max De Pree’s timeless words and practical philosophy to a new generation of readers. De Pree looks at leadership as a kind of stewardship, stressing the importance of building relationships, initiating ideas, and creating a lasting value system within an organization. Rather than focusing on the “hows” of corporate life, he explains the “whys.” He shows that the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality and the last is to say thank you.

Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes
William Bridges

Whether it is chosen or thrust upon you, change brings both opportunities and turmoil. Since first published 25 years ago, Transitions has helped hundreds of thousands of readers cope with these issues by providing an elegantly simple yet profoundly insightful roadmap of the transition process. With the understanding born of both personal and professional experience, William Bridges takes readers step by step through the three stages of any transition: The Ending, The Neutral Zone, and, in time, The New Beginning. Bridges explains how each stage can be understood and embraced, leading to meaningful and productive movement into a hopeful future.

“How Great Bosses Engage Their Employees,”  Harvard Business Review(September 2011)
Charalambos A. Vlachoutsicos

This article focuses on helping managers see themselves as catalysts for problem solving and motivators for welcoming employee input. The idea of deep listening and the invitation to disagree are explored along with four other factors fostering engagement.

Feature 2

Is There a Connection between Planning and Fundraising?

Tom Reid, Senior Consultant, Mediator, Coach
The Reid Group

Planning. Fund Development. Is there an relationship between them? If so, what is it?

Often, it’s a sequential relationship. Organizations engaged in strategic planning evaluate and sharpen their focus on their mission, values, goals and objectives. An effective planning process will help you crystallize your understanding of who you are, what your impact is and how you are making that impact. Once the plan is done, it becomes clear that a number of the goals and objectives have financial implications. You have a plan and now you need to raise adequate funds to implement it.

Or, you have completed an annual fund campaign and now need a strategic plan for the allocation of the funds in order to have the most impact on the organization’s mission and goals.

And sometimes the relationship between planning and fundraising is symbiotic—it’s “both-and.” One of our former clients had an urgent need to raise operating and program funds. They quickly held a few fundraising events and sent out several mailings to their constituents, but they saw little response.

This organization lacked a clear plan for the development of funds and deployment of programs, and had little expertise in clearly presenting who they were in such a way as would elicit an emotional and financial commitment from potential supporters. They needed assistance with both planning and fund development.

Another way planning and fund development are related is in the distaste many leaders and organizations have for both. Many people think of planning as an excruciatingly boring process yielding a book-length document that gathers dust on someone’s shelf. As for fund development, as one of our clients said, “I’d rather clean toilets than ask for money.”

Addressing these attitudes is an essential part of our work with clients in both strategic planning and fund development. We offer added value to our clients in our ability to help them approach planning and fund development in a positive way as well as in our expertise in both areas.


The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning

Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.

Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.

The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from


And that’s it for this month. Look for Transforming Challenges next month–and until then, have a good day and a great week.
Kathy Johnson, Editor
Transforming Challenges
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