Last week I began a new chapter in my professional life; making the move from corporate team building with Bluehat Group to interactive learning and development programmes with Expedite Learning. It has been an interesting transition with a variety of new things to learn, not only in terms of the services provided but also in terms of working environment.
Whenever it appears, change is challenging and it’s times like these that remind me to think about a model I’ve rediscovered through Expedite Learning’s Leading TransitionTM workshop, namely the three stages of transition as developed by Bill Bridges in his book ‘Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change’.
2016 and the start of 2017 has proved to be a tumultuous, transitional period. The UK voted to leave the EU and Donald Trump took to the White House (just in case you forgot) while I moved on from Bluehat.
The ‘3 Stages of Transition’ Model
But how does that relate to me as a team leader I hear you ask? Bill Bridges’ model is a great tool to help you understand how your team react to transitions:
• The first and arguably most difficult stage is ‘Ending’. This is about accepting that ‘what was’ is over.
• The second is the ‘Neutral Zone’. This is where you stop looking back and start to look forward and think about how to progress.
• The final stage is the ‘New Beginning’. This is where your new reality is normal and you are fully engaged.
How Do You Coach People Through Transition?
Long story short, transition is difficult. However you can take steps to make it easier by coaching people through whichever stage they’re in. If one of your team is at the ‘ending’ stage you need to help him or her come to terms with the change; ploughing on with what’s new and ignoring what was before will extend this phase for them. Once they are in the ‘Neutral Zone’ you can place the focus far more on the future and aim them in the direction of the ‘New Beginning’.
Positive v Negative Transition
I mentioned earlier about Brexit and Trump as negatives, but for many people they are positives. It took a long time for me to pass the ‘Ending’ stage and let go of what I had known, yet supporters of these changes passed into the ‘Neutral Zone’ very quickly and began making plans for their new reality. It’s just like learning to deal with transitions in the workplace; to give someone the promotion they want is an easier and faster transition than adding an unexpected responsibility.
In an ideal world every transition would be positive but, especially in these trying financial times, negative transition can’t always be avoided. The key point either way is that in work, as in life, preparation is key.
Not many people expected Brexit or Trump. If your team don’t expect your next move then you could find the transition process to be longer than one of Donald Trump’s ties.