Managing Change by Managing Transitions

It’s that time of year! Change is in the air! Whether it is a new grade level, new building, new team, new administrator, new program, or even a new room, change in education is regular and frequent. William Bridges, author of Managing Transitions, maintains that when change occurs, successful transitions may not necessarily take place. Bridges observes that individuals and organizations can many times experience difficulty moving forward and embrace change without transition.

Bridges describes change as situational and what happens to people. Change is external and can happen quickly. Transition, on the other hand, is internal and is what happens in people’s minds as they go through change. Transition takes time because it requires a reorientation in response to change and results in a shift in identity. Transition is endurable when attached to a greater purpose and part of a movement toward a desired end.

Without meaningful transition, change can be distressing. Educators must skillfully manage change by creating conditions that maximize successful transition, for the good of the organization and themselves.

Organizations and individuals go through three transitional phases when change occurs:
1. Endings (losing, letting go)
2. The neutral zone
3. New beginnings

During July, we’ll explore how to manage change by managing transitions. Next week, we’ll study the first phase, endings.