The Importance of Guiding Employees Through Change

Change happens all the time, both personally and at work. When change is imposed on us it can lead to confusion, frustration and a decrease in productivity. Leaders who recognize the impact that change can have on employees can limit the fallout by helping employees with the change or transition.

Mishandling change — whether it’s a new boss, a change in office procedures, or a turn in the company’s finances — can prompt employees to leave or it may hurt their productivity. Change can also be more than a one-time event.

William Bridges in his book Transitions talked about three stages people go through when experiencing change.

The first step is to recognize that change or a transition starts with an ending. If a business goes through a merger, employees may need time to mourn the loss of how things were.

After letting go of how things were people enter what he calls the neutral zone. It is an in-between time when the old is gone but the new is not fully operational.

The last stage of his model is that of new beginnings. Beginnings are marked by a release of energy in a new direction – they are an expression of a fresh identity. Well-managed transition allows people to establish in new roles with an understanding of their purpose, the part they play, and how to contribute and participate most effectively. They are reoriented and renewed.

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