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The Whistler Report

Talking Change - it isn't the changes that do you in, it's the transitions

Leaves changing colour
Photo credit: Chris Lawton

Do you find yourself dealing with constant change these days? Leading change is tricky. Switching from old to new is the 'easy' part – implementing a new system, hiring a new leader, buying a new house. It’s personal transitions that impede organizations from realizing the benefits and desired results of change.  

American Author William Bridges, who is credited with the quote in the title, describes transitions as “the inner psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about”. (Managing Transitions, 1991.)

When change is introduced people have to accept that something is ending before they will move forward to the new world. They have to let go of something. Acknowledging what will be lost or what will end is the first step on the transition journey. Leaders that fail to recognize the impact of loss will continue to experience resistance from their teams.

In my upcoming book, Talking Change – Must-Have Conversations for Successful Leaders, I explain the phases of transition and how to help people move through each phase. People will transition through change at different rates based on their role in the change, the extent of the impact of change, and even their personality type. Transitioning through change is like running a marathon – while some have already run the races, others are still doing up their laces.

As a starting point, talk to people to understand their perspective on what they feel they will lose when the changes are introduced. Then talk to them about what they might gain. Conversations are the key to leading through change successfully. My book, launching in September 2020, will outline 20 AIM Changing Conversations to lead change that sticks. In the meantime, just start talking to your people and really listening to their answers. You never know what you might find out!


Enjoy the conversation!

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