“It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transition.

Change is situational; the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policty. Transition is the pyschlogical process people go through to come to terms with the new situation. Change, is external, transition is internal.” (Bridges, 1991)

transitionPeople are often uncomfortable with change, for all sorts of understandable reasons. However, change is an external situation that simply happens. What creates a need for change management is people’s reaction to change; our emotional and psychological transition takes time. Change can happen very quickly, while transition usually occurs more slowly.

The Transition Model was created by Change Consultant William Bridges in his book Managing Transitions (1991). Bridges suggests that people need to transition through change in three states:

Stage 1: Endings – people need to let go of the past before they can embrace the new

Stage 2: neutral zone – exploring their comfort with the new change

Stage 3: Beginnings – embracing the change

Stage 1: Endings

This stage often elicits resistance and and emotional response, as people are faced with letting of the status quo. Emotions that you could face are:

  • Denial – this should be addressed directly to ensure it does not become a fixed position
  • Anger – Listen and acknowledge, but don’t rescue and don’t take the blame
  • Bargaining – listen for creativity, but don’t be swayed
  • Anxiety – fear of the unknown, often fed by their imagination about situations that will never arise, and ctastrophising the future. Listen, recognise their feelings and maintain communications to reassert the reality.
  • Sadness – Reassure, sympathise – again, don’t rescue!
  • Disorientation – support through conversations and reassurance
  • Depression – listen, empathise, offer them an understanding of what is in their control, ensure skilled support is obtained.

At this stage it is essential that you give people time to accept change, whilst

  • Respecting the past
  • Introducing the vision
  • Trying to understand what is going on for people; getting them to talk through how they feel about the situation
  • Maintaining transparent and strong lines of communication.

Stage 2: Neutral Zone

This is the stage when you review the vision and can be a time of both confusion and creativity. People are often caught between the conflicting demands and expectations between the old and the new. You may experience both excitement and challenge to the new change. Through this stage, it is essential

  • Provide constant feedback and updates
  • Give people a sense of direction
  • Consider the dynamics of any new teams (forming, storming, norming, performing )
  • Set short term goals to achieve quick wins, which in turn will develop motivation

Stage 3: Beginnings

By this stage, people will have begun to embrace the change, building any new skills required and experiencing the successful outcome of the change, as they start to see the impact of the early wins. You can now:

  • Review values, behaviours and skills
  • Explain the purpose and vision – and bring the vision into focus
  • Celebrate achievements and people’s input
  • Involve people in setting personal goals
  • Link outcomes to personal goals
  • Link outcomes to the long-term objectives the organisation
  • Create future milestones/plans

important-emotions-02However, despite change being a constant in our lives, people find it difficult; whether big or small, whether presenting an opportunity or a challenge. Personal support has been shown to be greatly valued by employees and so helps people to engage and flourish during periods of transition; at an organisational or personal level. Supporting management through such times is our area of expertise. Should you wish to talk through how we can support your employee engagement, please do not hesitate to call Marion on 07710 624867.

Here’s some change that everyone can enjoy every minute of, courtesy of Mr David Bowie

(Cartoon artwork by Stephanie R, Left Handed Toons)

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This entry was posted in Change, Leadership development, Resilience, Transition and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transition.

  1. Pingback: Why does organisational change create so much resistance | Future Focus Thinking

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