Transition vs Change? What are the differences and how does an effective organization manage them?
Webster’s Dictionary defines the noun “change” as the act, process or result of making something, or someone, different.
To most people in the business world, change is associated with a loss of the status quo and an introduction of the unknown. To many, it represents loss of the comfortable and introduction of unknown factors, and for this reason, change in the corporate world is most likely to be seen as something to be avoided.
Change could mean loss of status, loss of income, loss of security, while at the same time introducing uncomfortable concepts, new skill requirements into the mix. It is the management of these changes that leads to successful “transitions” which manage successful passage from one state to another, or change management.
Another way to look at it – you have just come upon a long, dark tunnel. It is scary, there are many unknowns inside, and you don’t have any light to lead your way. You are very reluctant to enter the tunnel, but at the end of the tunnel, you can see a well-lit doorway. You have to go through the tunnel to reach the door, and once you reach that door, you have to go through it. The door represents your passage through the long tunnel of change.
The effective Change Manager is fully cognizant of all the negatives that can be associated with changes leading to transition. He / She is an expert in implementing effective processes through which people come to terms with the change and adjust to its ramifications, passing through the door to the unknowns on the other side.
There are several key points necessary for the transition to be successful:
- Letting go of things as they were
- Facing the new reality – what IS it?
- Where are we now – how do we make difficult realities less painful
- Reframing new opportunities and possibilities
- Defining the goals, success measures and actions to be taken
I recall some of my own experiences in dealing with individuals who are facing change and are in a panic, often depressed and angry. I recall one particular executive who was being “Downsized” due to a corporate restructuring. Through our business coaching he came to realize that he had become pretty comfortable with the status quo of his long-term position, but also realized he had not been challenged and had lost his passion for his work. (An “aha” moment – could this have contributed somewhat to the outsourcing?) We spent lots of time working on his self-discovery and realized he had energizing strengths and talents, which were not being used in any significant way in his old job.
By plugging into those talents, developing his own brand, and engineering a plan for developing and leveraging his networks, he began to envision new opportunities and possibilities. As his thinking evolved, so did his energy level. Ultimately, he was led to start his own business, which has been hugely successful. By getting through that door of transition, he was rewarded on the other side with wonderfully engaging opportunities. (I have a caveat here: All transitions do not have blissfully happy endings, however by using certain tools and processes, the journey through transition can be very enlightening and fulfilling.)
Businesses and organizations are beginning to learn that an effective coaching process can reap big rewards in the Change Management function. Assuming there are no psychological imbalances that need to be dwelt with, an effective coach can lead individuals and groups through the transition of changes in an organization by exploring several areas and facilitating the successful transition. Using an effective coach as a tool for change management can result in quicker and more effective results, not to mention higher employee satisfaction and success.
To deal with change and make a transition you need to first identify the changes happening…
What are the changes you are experiencing in your life?
They might be personal or professional.
What are the realities of those changes, what are the losses associated with them?
These could include loss of loved one, or loss of job, change of environment, loss of stability, loss of friends/co-workers, loss of status associated with job loss or job change (or life change), loss of comfort in status quo.
What are the changes that are facilitating those losses?
Change in organizational structure, adaptation of new systems and processes, mergers and acquisitions, divorce, death of loved one – these are just a few possibilities.
Now that you have identified them what steps can you take to make a successful transition?
Start by looking for the potential and the opportunities; develop more self-awareness on the situation and take the steps to transition through the change. Don’t accept that a change has to mean loss, seek out the positive in the change and manage it to a successful transition.
The long tunnel may be long, scary and rocky – it might be a hard path to follow; however a good business coach can help you understand there may be huge opportunities on the other side of the transition door. A coach can also help you to brand your identity, help you develop a higher level of self-awareness and learning while fashioning a doable strategy for success.
The walk down to that tunnel may be difficult, and there are no guarantees for the outcome, but working with an experienced coach can help you to open that door in order to get through the gate, with possibilities and promise on the other side.