I often use William Bridges work on Managing Transitions to help organizations and people navigate through turbulant times. Here are some key insights:
Change is an external event- an action or decision (either planned or unplanned) that impacts us as individuals.
Transition on the other hand, is the psychological internal reorientation that we go through in order to come to terms with the change.
All transitions have phases, the more we recognize the phases, the more productive we will be in managing ourselves and others through transitions.
- Phase 1 - The Ending. All change is loss, even when it is a happy event like the birth of a child. Say bye-bye to sleep for a while and going out to dinners on a whim! To move productively through this phase, reflect on what the loss is, then consider things you can do to mitigate the loss. When losing a job, losses can include not only income but: regular interactions with colleagues, physical and mental activity, a routine, sense of accomplishment, purpose, etc. The key is to identify for yourself or the person that you are helping through the transition what the loss is, and what you can do about it. For example, setting up regular interactions with a group of people, volunteering, etc. Also, have fun saying goodbye to the things you won't miss!
- Phase 2: The neutral zone. This is a tremendously fertile time of reinvention. People who figure out to take advantage of the neutral zone will come out of the transition better off. Since the old way of working is gone, people open up to new ways of thinking, stretch their skills and are more innovative. This is where opportunity is found for those that are looking for it. Many people find new careers, start new businesses, adopt new technology, or simply find better ways to do things. The key here is to be open and learning so that you can harness the energy in this phase.
- Phase 3: The new beginning. A time will come when there is a new way of working, different than the past. To be successful in this phase, managagers and individuals need to build in support to sustain the change: reminders, measurements, rewards, new structures.
What phase are you in right now? What steps are you taking to move yourself through the transition?