Support Your Team Through Change by Understanding the Stages of Transition
I am preparing to work with a fantastic team next week on the east coast and 20 of their key leaders identified the Leading Through Change workshop as one of two trainings I will lead them through. And since I have this topic on my mind, I thought, why not share a bit of the content I am preparing in a blog post.
When an organization experiences a significant change—from shifts in work schedule to the restructuring of staff (and we could list so many more here) —it may be tempting to put all of your focus on gaining results from the initiative. However, if you want to support your team, you need to refocus your attention toward the stages of transition and how they affect each of your employees.
Transition is different from change because it happens internally as people deal with change on a psychological level. There are three stages to transition as outlined in the Bridges Transition Model. By focusing on communication, collaboration, and commitment, you can help your team embrace change as you support them through the stages of transition.
Stage One: Endings The beginning stage of transition is perhaps somewhat counterintuitive. Before people can continue processing a change, they must first come to terms with what they are losing. Your job is to acknowledge this loss and help people work through it.
Stage Two: Neutral Zone In the neutral zone, employees start to accept what is lost and begin to understand the potential benefits of the change, but they haven’t figured everything out yet. They aren’t necessarily completely comfortable with the change.
Stage Three: New Beginnings The stage of new beginnings is when people look forward to their new role and understand how the overall changes contribute to the wellbeing of your organization.
How to Support Your Team Change isn’t easy. Many leaders misstep by trying to jump into new beginnings before people have had time to process the changes taking place in their organization. That’s one of the reasons so many change initiatives fail. Want better odds of success? Pay attention to the feelings and wellbeing of the people affected by change before you focus on results.
Allow time for the process of transition to happen internally and offer guidance along the way. Be available to talk through the change and don’t push for too much to happen too quickly. If you focus on the change without giving time and attention to the transition process, you risk disrupting your team’s ability to allow for a healthy transition.
Learn More If you are interested in learning more on this topic, I also offer the Leading Through Change workshop for individuals. I’ll cover how to guide your team through change by focusing on the three C’s of transition—communication, collaboration, and commitment. You’ll learn how to lead through change and get equipped with the tools needed to foster alignment in your organization.