Change is easy. Transitions are hard. Change is an event, and people transition. Transition is the internal journey unique to an individual as they move through the change event. Change can happen quickly, while transitions occur over time.
Transition is different for everyone. According to William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions, there are three transition stages to navigate.
- Ending Zone: People focus more on what they are losing and less on what they will gain. People often forget this step and leap to the stage of new beginnings. It is crucial to allow people time to process this stage, even if they chose the change. A new friend moved to Hawaii and sold her home on the mainland. People congratulated her on the big move and welcomed her to Hawaii. I added, “That was a huge change. Was it hard to sell your last home and leave your friends?” She replied with relief, “Thank you for saying that. I’m happy to be here, but that was hard, especially during COVID.” Talking about ending zone feelings helps people move on to the next stage.
- Neutral Zone: The most uncomfortable zone because people are not who they once were, nor the person they soon will become. It is also filled with possibilities. To enter the neutral zone, list all the experiences that could help to accept the change and start taking action. For example, if you moved to a new department at work, list whom you need to meet and what you want to learn. Then, make a plan to accomplish that list.
- New Beginnings: This is the point where people accept the change and begin to embrace it. People see their role in the new beginning and how they can benefit from it. Now, it is time to celebrate.
Change is inevitable, especially post-pandemic. Prepare your teams by building their resiliency during transitions. We are here to help your team transition through change, big or small.