People, Culture and Inclusion

Managing Transitions.


Managing Transitions.

I mentioned on Friday about transitions, and how they take time to work through. The way we respond, and the length of time we spend in transition however is a very personal thing.

Change and transition are different, but a connected part of the process. William Bridges talks about change being situational – the external environmental factors (for example, a new process, a new way of working), but transition is psychological; it’s the way we respond to the changes that are happening and how we choose to incorporate, adapt to, or resist the changes.

We are seeing examples of this across the globe right now, and you don’t need me to highlight them. Instead I will share a more personal example of when I have been confronted with the reality of my approach to transition.

A few years ago I was part of a programme to develop my facilitation skills. It was less about surface techniques to manage group conversations, and more a deep exploration of myself and my impact on the dynamics of a group. On one occasion the group facilitator started the session by leaping into a topic without the usual check-in or even the social niceties I was used to. This jarred for me, and as this group was always encouraged to speak up and give feedback I shared my discomfort with the facilitator telling him how “we” (the group) needed to check-in first. The next few minutes was one of those defining moments when I had clarity like never before about myself. It turned out the rest of the group did not feel like me, that I did not speak for them, and the tension I was feeling was not shared.

The learning for me as a facilitator was huge – never make assumptions about the feeling of a group and never attempt to speak for a whole group, the only feelings and thoughts you can speak for are your own. But more than that – it helped me to realise that transitions are a thing for me. This was a micro example, a transition of only a few minutes to get into a space of learning, but it was going to make all the difference to me. I have held on to that understanding ever since and can recognise that I need time to move from one state to another. Whilst I love and embrace change, I need space to move into it.

We are in the depths of a truly unexpected change, so understanding what will help with our own psychological transitions will be fundamental in making this work. I would encourage you to reflect on this, speak to your manager, discuss with your colleagues and your students, and discover what you need to enable you to move through this transition.

If you would like to find out more about William Bridges work then his website explains more. His book ‘Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change’ is also available as an e-book from the Library.

Juliet Flynn, Organisational and People Development Team

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