3 Phases That Help People Shift Toward Association Change Management

If you’ve done a good job of communicating the 4Ps on managing transition on a new initiative, then you may be wondering why the team is still struggling to move in a new direction?

Ultimately, association change management is up to the individual. You can have the best processes, communication plans, and skilled team members, but each person has to adapt to change.

In the book, Managing Transitions by William Bridges, PhD, Bridges provides solid researched-based, practical advice on managing transition and he talks about the 3 phases of transition: letting go of the old.jpg

  1. Letting go of the “old ways” and the old identity people had. This first phase of transition is an ending, and the time when you need to help people to deal with their losses. 
  2. Going through an in-between time when the old is gone, but the new isn’t fully operational. It’s called the “neutral zone,” and it’s when critical psychological realignments and re-patternings take place.
  3. Coming out of the transition and making a new beginning. People develop a new identity, experience the new energy, and discover the new sense of purpose that make the change begin to work.

This past year at Aptify, we implemented a Project Portfolio Management system in our consulting team. Our old way of managing resourcing, projects, and forecasting was highly manual and disconnected. The growth of our team made it impractical to continue passing around spreadsheets in order to track our business. As the practice director, I had to “let go” of personally owning each data point of our forecast and move the details to our Program Managers. My role transitioned from being individually accountable to holding other’s accountable to provide accurate numbers.

During the “in-between time,” the Program Managers had to change both their forecast and project tracking process. Individuals had to become comfortable with a new way of managing their individual work. After years of complaining about the manual, repetitive processes, this was the period when I heard about how “maybe the old manual process wasn’t so bad.” It was important to train, repeat training, then train individually where needed, and reinforce the reasons behind the change. We held “office hours” and added special sessions to work through issues. Then, we repeated training and the benefits again, and then again! inbetweenphase.jpg

Coming out of the transition, we’ve been able to take advantage of reporting analytics that we didn’t have in the past. Our separate processes are now fully tied together. We are 6 months into the new system and can barely remember how we used to do things so manually. We have more capabilities we can take advantage of, and looking back, the middle phase was definitely the most challenging.

Knowing that challenging period is almost always present during transition can help “unstick” team members as you communicate to the team what is “normal,” and you are there to help push through it in order to reap the full benefits of the “new normal.”

Guiding a team through change has as much to do with the team as it does with what’s changing. Find out how you can prepare a team for change through a personality assessment.

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