My boss just quit. Well actually my boss’ boss – the head of our organization. However, as it often happens with this type of job – I really worked mostly, directly, for him.

It’s sad. I’ve liked working with him a lot and hopefully, one day, I’ll have the chance to do so again.  And so, the title of this post…thanks to Dr. Seuss.

Anywhoo – the truth is I’ve been through this so many times before its getting pretty familiar. This time though it honestly feels a little different and it’s causing me to reflect on what tends to happen to ‘the people stuff’ after a change such as this, or I should say on what I anticipate and speculate will happen.

More often than not I (you?) build a ‘people’ strategy around a particular leader or leadership team to help support and achieve their goals, while at the same time hopefully applying the right influence to assure my strategy takes into account what’s best for their teams. So as things get sorted out following my recent change in leadership (as they inevitably will) it’s all got me thinking about how past incidents ended up affecting all my past work.

Many times it’s all gotten chucked either because the new leadership didn’t believe in investing too much time and energy into ‘people’ (too warm and fuzzy etc). Or maybe they had their own ‘people’ person who needed to put their own stamp and spin on the work. Or sometimes they were actually  impressed with what I achieved but wanted things built around them rather than their predecessor and so, guess what? I had to chuck most of it anyway.

I understand that it’s the nature of this type work to align with whatever the strategy of the moment tends to be, but it’s still difficult to deal with the challenge when the inevitable inevitably comes. I mean despite the ongoing potential for change at the top shouldn’t employees be able to count on SOME constancy? After all why should they believe the next vision statement, the next set of values, or frankly anything you say if the message is always going to change? I suppose the question really is what if anything should I do differently the next time. Here’s what I’m thinking…

As far as the next people program strategy goes – I think it will be important to focus on some non-negotiables. Those platforms and key messages that should never change and that eventually become the touchstone of any current or future program. Key ‘vanilla’ cultural messages such as ‘teamwork’ and platforms such as a team intranet should become staple foundational components. I’ll also focus on a calendar that gets adhered to despite the leadership – ie weekly team updates, quarterly townhalls etc. Things such as publishing lots of team photos is another type of activity that can be a staple despite the leadership, and can help to keep a culture constant and stable. I’m honestly lax in this area, but going forward I’m going to enlist employee volunteers to make the effort a bit easier on my strained bandwith.

Oh and if you’re the newbie and taking over for someone else on the people stuff, take the time to analyze results and don’t trash or reinvent stuff that seems to be working. Remember the more continuity you can maintain the better – so borrow with pride when you can.

After some more thought, I’m sure I’ll come up with more ideas – but I guess the point is to ensure this kind of thinking remains at the forefront going forward. I suppose at the end of the day the messages will always change, and the platforms will always need to be tweaked as necessary to make your particular leadership shine – but if you and I manage to keep some constant and impactful pieces of our programs intact from leadership team to leadership team we may have a hope of retaining functional integrity when the messages do inevitably change, and of creating a bit of stability for our folks in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty.  At the very least, I’m going to try.