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Managing Organizational Transition

Columbus Metropolitan Library

Innovation Leader: Gerald Schwab, Organizational Development and Learning Manager, gschwab@columbuslibrary.org

Problem Statement

Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) takes innovation seriously. Innovation requires staff to change. Recognizing that change is difficult for staff and could prevent successful innovations, CML needed to help staff transition to new ways of doing business. The Library needed to identify ways to help staff transition from the old way of business to the new way of business. Managing the staff transition to the new ways of doing business are critical to successful changes.

Innovation

Recognizing the need to support staff during changes, CML invested in certifying a staff member to instruct managers and key staff members in Managing Organizational Transition (MOT). Based on the book Managing Transitions by William Bridges, MOT gives managers an understanding of the struggle staff have to transition to be able to adjust to change and introduces tools to help make successful transitions. In 2010, 152 staff members were trained in MOT. These managers began applying the principles to workflow and staffing pattern changes. A tactical plan item to replace the point-of -sale system at CML’s circulation desks was an important and high profile change. Seeing the importance of a successful transition, CML used a Transition Monitoring Team (TMT) to focus on the impact of the change for the staff. A six-member TMT was created with the sole purpose of being the voice of the staff and facilitate communication to administration and the project team. The TMT identified potential losses and struggles for staff and offered suggestions for improved communication. Additional concerns were identified and shared with the project team (i.e. staff access). The project team addressed these concerns before full project implementation. CML used pilot locations to test the software and training. These pilot locations provided feedback on how to help other staff adjust to the change. Adjustments were made before final roll-out. Members of the TMT visited each location one week after their go-live date to ask staff how they felt about the transition and what went well and what could have been improved.

Progress

As a result of the TMT work, staff adjusted well to the change, concerns were addressed in a timely fashion, and a successful change was made. Identifying tactical plan items that would benefit from a TMT is now part of the annual strategic planning process.