In Change Management, People Skills

Yet another traffic jam. Crawling along in my car the other day, craning to see the reason for this 20mph procession, the news on the radio announced Clinton Cards were going into administration.

It seems here is yet another long established company that has not adapted to the tsunami of emerging technologies and changing habits – tailored cards, Facebook, Twitter, and more. It’s similar to digital photos and Eastman Kodak or media streaming and Blockbusters. Ironically Facebook themselves, who most of us would think of as an innovative company, are also facing challenges because they weren’t prepared for so many people using mobile devices.

As I pondered over these thoughts, I arrived at the reason for the slow crawl – it was one of those beautiful old vintage cars. The type you see on the Brighton to London rally. It looked in pristine condition and was happily toodling along; just as it was designed to do.  Driving past, it occurred to me that there was a time when this car would have been seen as a technological revolution itself.

What impact would it have had on the world around it, the people in the cities, the owners of the horses and carts? Did they embrace the change or resist it? Who would have benefited and who would have been disadvantaged? And what must it have been like for the early drivers of the car – were the road conditions suitable, were there enough service stations for refuelling and for repairs. Those wider needs would need to be met for the idea to become mainstream.

There is always a point when the old and new worlds meet, where they have to co-exist through the upheaval until the new way becomes so integrated that it becomes the norm……. until another new thing comes along that is.

William Bridges in his book Managing Transitions says:
“Transition is about letting go of the past and taking up new behaviours or ways of thinking”.

Before people can fully embrace the new, they need to be allowed to let go of the past and it’s inevitable that there will be a period of muddle and disorientation before this happens.

Here are five things you can do to support people through transition:

1. Acknowledge what is being left behind and mark the ending
2. Keep communicating about what is changing and why
3. Maintain two-way information flows to keep connected with what’s going on and how people are really feeling
4. Set short range goals and checkpoints but allow for flexibility, as everyone is learning and discovering what the new way will really mean
5. Help people identify the part they will play in this new world and then let them get on with it.

What else would you add to this list?

Click here to visit our resources page and read more about Bridges transition model for change.

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