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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”.

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

Before people can fully embrace the new, they need to be given the time and space to let go of the past. It’s inevitable that there will be a period of disruption and disorientation before this happens.

Here are five things you can do to support people through change and 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.

Bridges transitional model for change

Endings – Help people to ‘let go’ of the old ways

Clarify what will change and what will stay the same
Identify losses to mark what they feel sad about losing
Respect and honour what people feel are their losses
Help people see what they will be pleased to finish with
Explain WHY change is necessary
Show how best values of past can be preserved
Communicate a LOT!

Neutral Zone – Help people make the ‘journey’

Establish frequent communication patterns
Have ‘rapid responses’ to handle feedback
Help people learn from process and to manage themselves
Help people see what they will be pleased to finish with
Help people share creative metaphors for change journey
Allow people to experiment and try new ways of working
Offer varied learning opportunities and support

New Beginnings – Encourage commitment to new future

Give people a purpose, a picture, a plan and a part to play
Be consistent in behaviour, messages and decision-making
Demonstrate early successes to encourage people
Celebrate key milestones in the change journey

Click here to download this quick reference guide about how to use this technique.