Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change

Three Phases

Letting go of the old ways and the old identity people had. Let people deal with their losses.

Before you can begin something new, you have to end something else. Before you can learn a new way of doing things, you have to unlearn the old way. The problem is, people don’t like endings.

The in-between time when the old ways are gone but the new ways aren’t fully operational yet. The neutral zone.

The neutral zone is the company’s best opportunity to explore and be creative. This is the time when innovation is the most possible.

Coming out of the transition and making a new beginning. Develop the new identity, experience the new energy, and discover a new sense of purpose.

How to Deal Directly with Losses and Endings

  1. Identify who’s losing what
  2. Accept the reality and importance of subjective losses
  3. Don’t be surprised by overreactions
  4. Acknowledge the losses openly and sympathetically
  5. Expect and Accept the signs of grieving
  6. Compensate for the losses
  7. Give people information, and do it again and again
  8. Define what’s over and what isn’t
  9. Mark the endings
  10. Treat the past with respect
  11. Let people take a piece of the old way with them
  12. Show how the endings ensure the continuity of what really matters

Leading Through the Neutral Zone

  1. You have to get your people through the transition in one piece
  2. And also capitalize on the confusion to drive innovation

How do You Provide Structure and Strength?

Try to protect people from further changes while they’re getting rebalanced

Review policies and procedures to ensure that they’re adequate to deal with the confusing fluidity of the neutral zone

What new roles, responsibilities, and chains of command need to be developed?

Set short-range goals for people to help them move through the transition.

Don’t set people up for failure by promising high levels of output while in the neutral zone.

Find out what the new admins need to learn to function successfully in the neutral zone.

How to Actively Encourage Creativity

Establish by word and example that this is the time to step back and take stock of what’s been done in the past and what needs to change

Provide training and techniques of discovery and innovation

Encourage experimentation

Embrace losses, setbacks, or disadvantages as entry points into new solutions

Look for opportunities to come up with new solutions to old problems

Restrain the natural tendency to push for premature closure and solutions

Launching a New Beginning

Encouraging New Beginnings

Explain the basic purpose behind the outcome you seek

Paint a picture of how the outcome will look and feel

Lay out a step-by-step plan for phasing in the outcome

Give everyone a part to play

Reinforcing Change

Be consistent

  1. Don’t preach teamwork and then reward individuality
  2. Don’t preach customer service and then reward “following the rules”
  3. Don’t preach risk taking and then reward no mistakes
  4. Don’t preach feedback and reward no criticism

Ensure quick successes

Symbolize the new identity

Celebrate the Success