Managing Transitions

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  • Topic: A New Beginning, New Boss, Thing
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  • Published : February 28, 2013
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August 2005

Managing Transitions Making the Most of Change
By William Bridges

This is the second edition of Bridges’ popular 1991 book that has sold 400,000 copies. He says that people do not have problems with change itself, but rather with transitions. The change is the situation, i.e., the new boss, the move, the reorganization, etc. The transition is “psychological. It is the three-phased process people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the details of the new situation that the change brings about.” “People have to bring their hearts and minds to work,” so when change comes along, “transition management…is a way of dealing with people that makes everyone feel more comfortable.” The first phase is Letting Go—the ending of the old. People need to deal with their losses. Next is the “neutral zone,” when the old is gone and the new is not fully operational. Psychological realignments take place. And then there is the new beginning. People develop a new identity, experience new energy and purpose, and make change begin to happen. How to Get People to Let Go You start by identifying who will suffer losses and try to understand them. You sympathize publicly and permit people to grieve. Find ways to compensate (non-financial) for the losses, if possible. Of course, communication is a top priority, clearly defining details over and over is important. Ceremonies to “mark the ending” are appropriate to honor the past. Leading People Through the Neutral Zone Marilyn Ferguson, an American Futurist, has described the neutral zone as “Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There is nothing to hold on to.” Anxiety and self-doubt are up; motivation and efficiency are down. Many people miss work; medical and disability claims are up. Old weaknesses such as confused priorities or miscommunications reemerge. People are polarized. Teamwork is undermined. It is also a creative time. People are more hospitable to new ideas. Since there are less clear...
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