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Why can’t people just get with the program? They question, they challenge, they complain… and it’s all perfectly predictable and normal.
Transition is the emotional process people go through when adapting to a change in their world. It doesn’t matter if the change is positive, like having a new baby or getting promoted. People still have to let go of some parts of their life (perhaps the luxury of sleeping late!) and learn new things (how to change a diaper while half asleep).
The process is predictable, according to the work seminal done by organizational thinker and consultant William Bridges. Leaders who understand what people typically experience during change can put measures into place to help accelerate the transition process.
Download Transition – The Human Side of Change infographic at http://partneringresources.com/new-infographic-transition-the-human-side-of-change/.
THE TRIED & TRUE SERIES: TRUSTED MODELS THAT STAND THE TEST OF TIME
Change is an event: a restructuring, layoﬀ, or new assignment. Transition, according to William Bridges, is the process people go through in order to adapt to the change.
TRANSITION: THE HUMAN SIDE OF CHANGE
Adapted from Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, by William Bridges; other sources by William Bridges & Chris Edgelow; and from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
Partnering Resources is a management consulting ﬁrm dedicated to helping individuals, teams, and organizations thrive in our networked world. We help companies develop networked leadership, navigate change, and ﬁnd opportunities in complex business ecosystems.
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THE HUMAN SIDE
HOW TO HELP
LIMBO BETWEEN OLD
People need an ending before
they can have a new begin-
ning. They let go of some-
• Ways of accomplishing tasks
that made them successful in the
• Goals and priorities they
previously worked to achieve
• Assumptions about their job,
team, or organization
• Expectations about what it
means to be successful
The neutral zone is the state
of limbo between old and new
Coping with feelings of uncer-
tainty and confusion can take
considerable energy. Yet success-
ful transition requires people to
spend some time doing this. It’s
at this stage that transformation
takes place. New ideas and possi-
bilities begin to emerge.
• Create a clear implemen-
• Clarify exactly what people
will be required to do and
how they will be evaluated.
• Provide opportunities to
learn new skills in a low-risk
• Ask people to help deﬁne
new roles and practices.
• Work together to identify
and remove barriers to
Now people start behaving in
new ways. They ﬁnd the
positives in the new state
and discover how change can
• Communicate reasons for
change clearly and concisely.
• Use multiple channels for
communication, not just
• Clarify what will change and
what will stay the same.
• Establish a distinct end
• Create temporary procedures and
policies that bridge the old and the new.
Forexample,during team relocation,daily
10-minute calls can help people stay in
touch and on track with work.
• Establish temporary lines of authority
and responsibility that help people
remain functional during change. For
example, a department may decide that
all expenditures under a certain amount
may be authorized by any manager.
• Engage in practices that encourage
cohesion. Frequently, groups undergoing
change start to fragment, as individuals
pay more attention to personal needs
than group goals. Leaders can help
groups stay connected and productive by
creating ways for teams to stay
connected and updated.
• Share more information than usual.
Communicate early and often about
relevant organizational changes.
THE NEW BEGINNING