(To protect the privacy of our contributor this person will remain anonymous and will use the alias Rey)
Major transitions for a program is challenging for everyone. Rey was a program manager at a non-profit company that went through not just one but two major transitions. In this Q&A session with Rey we will explore how they thrived as a manager of a program that needed stability in an unstable time. Then learn what we can do if/when this happens in our careers and how we can thrive in a major program change as a manager.
Tell us briefly about the transitions that you have done in your company
The transitions that I did at the company I work for started off with the first round of layoffs. I was the manager of a resource program in the healthcare sector. That program’s funding ran out because of that the team went from 7 people to 4 people within a year. After that program ended I moved into the Quality Assurance (QA) Management position.
What were your thoughts when you first found out about the changes?
I knew working for a non-profit Organization there was always funding cuts. I felt that it was a gamble to take away the resource team. The area was reliant on the customer service they provided for the counties.
As a manager how did you keep your team positive and motived to keep working?
I kept the team positive and motivated by interacting with them on a professional and personal level as well. Also, I kept positive myself and had a good attitude which in turn kept the team positive. I would meet with each member of the team 1 on 1, letting them know how much I appreciated them. I would also tell them how I value them as a part of the team. In an effort to show overall appreciation for the various programs the company started monthly Birthday Celebrations. I also regularly gave out recognition cards to those who would go above and beyond. I did this to show that I appreciated all the hard work they did
How did you stay positive and motivated to keep working?
I stayed positive and motivated by using SELF-care and changing my thought process. In this situation and others, I try and replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Being mindful of your thought process is the key. It has taken me years to develop this skill. But I personally know that you can retrain your brain to reverse negative thinking patterns. We all have days where sometimes you just can’t “control “the negative thoughts, and that’s ok. It’s good to recognize why you are feeling negative. Feel out the emotions and then move on to healthier thoughts.
What do you do for self-care?
I believe, to thrive in a major program change as a manager, self-care is the key to an improved mood and help with anxiety. Some of the ways I do this is exercising which helps me both physically and mentally. Also, having healthy boundaries and saying no to people when I need to. My favorite form of self-care is going to the salon makes me feel good as well, it is the little things that help. Even just taking a little time by myself; if it’s going for a walk or watching a TV show helps. Self- care doesn’t always have to cost money to work. Check out this list of self-care ideas if you need help!
What (if anything) would you have done differently or better?
As a manager, leadership should have been a little more transparent on what the changes were going to be. I think its important to all be on the same page no matter the title that is held. When it comes to certain things, honesty is the best policy. Yet, there is a fine line with employees due to having them worry and stress out about changes. You must be cautious in the way you communicate with the team. Keep the positivity high yet let them know that there may be some changes in the workplace. I try to keep it as general as possible. (which can be very difficult, and you must pick your words wisely.) Let them know that you will keep them in the loop, and you support them in any way possible. (If you struggle with finding that line between honesty and being careful check out our book review on Radical Candor by Kim Scott)
Wrap it up
So overall, Rey’s message for us it to be honest and open but cautious. Make sure that if you are going through a program change as a manager that you take care of yourself and recognize the hard work of the people your support. Working together as a team to make it through this change will be hard but you can get through it. It can be challenging and sometimes that challenge comes with a lot of self-doubt. Check out our review on UnFuck Yourself by John Bishop if self-doubt is something that you have been working through during this change in your life.
Rey is in management in various capacities throughout their career. They work in the non-profit industry and is passionate about providing quality leadership to their direct rapports.