change_Depositphotos_22232481_s-2015Whether change is being thrust upon you or whether you are boldly going where others have not, it would be a good idea to dissect change to gain a better understanding.

Fact #1 — Choices: change is a choice everyone makes.

It is not always a dreaded exercise as is often portrayed in the media and from the platform.  There are times when change excites us, energizes us, and motivates us.  Buying a new car, getting a different house, developing that new relationship, are all examples of taking the initiative to change.

Fact #2 – Transitions: transitions, not change, create most of the tension.

Change is an event.  We change and that’s it.  Transitions are the protracted processes that we must go through subsequent to a change effort.  Buying a new house and moving in is a change.  Getting use to the house…

  • New ways of doing things
  • Different impact on relationships
  • New routes to community locations
  • The accompanying different time tables

…can take months of adjustment. This same principle is true in buying a new car, changing jobs, adopting a new company policy, or over hauling your golf swing (ugh!!).

Fact #3 – Habits: transitions require new ways of doing things.

This is not automatic.  What is automatic is the 95% of the things we are now doing.  We can get so much done with little effort or thought with the 95% that’s on autopilot.  Folding cloths and driving cars fall into this category, as do many routines around the home and office. 5% left over is used to recognize and make necessary changes.

Fact #4 – Closures: something must stop for something better to begin.

Adding is only accomplished by subtracting. And it can hurt!  But there is a big difference between hurt and harm.  Everyone hurts when making a change leading to growth and productivity.  But it’s not harmful.  Harm leads to damage.  Necessary changes often lead to hurt.  Do not avoid hurt because you confuse it with harm.  Pruning can hurt, but it produces growth and development.

Gaining insight into the stages in transitions is helpful.  Here are four.

1st Stage – Routines – are already in place. 

This is the state where we feel things are as they should be.  Familiarity with certain routines makes the transitions much easier to navigate. Sometimes it’s a matter of building on the present, not eliminating it. It could be as simple as canceling a minimal-value meeting and sending an email instead.  Waiting for the big improvement often results in no improvement. Yet small improvements can make a big difference. Don’t change everything, but improve something.

2nd Stage — Endings – are necessary.

This can create much discomfort, and it’s normal.  This is because it has a more personal impact on our lives.  Even the most talented leaders can feel conflicted about ending things and end up resisting it. This can make us crosswise with life itself. Endings are a time of disengaging ourselves from what we have previously known. It’s a time of goodbyes.  Grief is an accompanying emotion since loss is a factor.

3rd Stage – Waiting – for a change to happen.

Sometimes this is called is abeyance. It can be characterized by low energy, apathy, or ambiguity.  In this state people are blandly going through the motions without any real results.

This can be distressing for those professionals who view themselves as energetic and decisive.  They think, “what’s happened to me?” The key is to lead people through these stages to the……

4th Stage Starting – a time of energy, vision, hope, and excitement.

New things are eagerly tried.  Freedom to make progress is juicing the employee’s energy.  This eventually becomes routine, right where we started.

This model helps us understand and deal with transitions.  As with all models it is not always perfectly sequenced by you or your people.  It gives you markers to know where you or your people are in the process, and where to move them next. No one needs to be blindsided when it happens.

If you want change initiatives to be successful, then transitions will take a lot of energy and require a lot of attention.  It might coincide with a loss of productivity.   If managed well the loss is temporary and leads to more productivity in the future.

If managed poorly, toxic behavior can be seeded in the organization and linger for years—whether you are an aerospace company, a retail outlet, or a church.

You Lead Change — You Manage Transitions