Change happens according to the need at the time. Many times, people are reluctant or scared of change. Bridges’ Transition Model discusses the process people go through when change occurs. He mentions that people go through three stages. Namely, ending, losing, and letting go, the neutral zone, and new beginnings.
Ending, Losing, and Letting go
Transition begins with an ending. People figure out what they are letting go of. This includes processes, systems, relationships, or location. Bridge’s Transition Model focuses on the transition, not the change. He argues that transition is what goes through people’s heads when they are experiencing change. Therefore, he said it is internal. Furthermore, all individuals function differently. Every person processes situations differently. Thus, people go through change at their own pace. Some people experience it quickly, and others slowly.
The first stage is the most emotional phase. This stage is met with resistance and emotional upheaval. This is because people are being forced to let go of something that they are comfortable with. Emotions people feel at this stage are fear, denial, anger, sadness, disorientation, frustration, uncertainty, and a sense of loss. Furthermore, all these emotions have the possibility of causing a roadblock in the transition. Consequently, if you don’t acknowledge the emotions that people are going through, you will meet resistance throughout the entire transition. You need to guide people through these emotions. As a result, they are less likely to be overwhelmed.
During this phase, listen to people empathetically. And accept their views and perceptions. Furthermore, try and understand where they are coming from. Ensure you make time to follow up on these things. This stage is the most crucial.
The Neutral Zone in Transition
This is also known as the in-between-time. And some call it ‘the bridge’. That is to say, people are still attached to the old and still getting used to the new. Another way you can explain it is when the old is no longer operational and the new is not yet fully functioning. It is the most important phase in the model. Here, it is about managing the change. It is time to realign the psychological perception of the change. It is the start of new beginnings.
Many people may feel confused, uncertain, and impatient. Moreover, they may have a higher workload as they get used to new systems and new ways of working. People fear what they don’t understand. Therefore, the better informed they are, the more likely they are to move onto the next stage.
Be mindful that productivity is usually at its lowest here. And your employees are most tempted to give up on the change. They may also experience resentment towards the change and anxiety about the role. Leading to their skepticism about the change taking place.
During this time, constantly provide feedback to employees. Make time to be available. Provide feedback on the change process, and feedback on how they are performing. This can reassure them they are doing well and that the process won’t last forever.
The New Beginning
The beginning marks a time of energy. This includes new understanding, new values, and a time of acceptance. People begin to welcome the change. And their understanding of their new role encourages them to perform better. People understand their purpose and the part they play towards the bigger picture. It is important to highlight the wins people gain from their effort. As a result, they will feel engaged and energetic.
At this stage, people feel open to learning and they have a newfound commitment. They take ownership because of their understanding and sense of belonging. The main aim is to reinforce the change results. Also keeping the objectives clear.
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