It is not uncommon for people to use the terms change and transition to mean the same thing. To better manage a change, both personal and organizational, it is essential to understand the difference between change and transition and to avoid considering them the same thing.
Change is a process that takes us from one state to another through a transition. The change is situational, that is referred to the external situation, while the transition is psychological.
Change refers to a specific external event that can be cyclical, intentional or dictated by external conditions. For example, a new job, becoming a parent, losing a loved one, or organizational change, social change, climate change.
The transition is an internal process of a new orientation, which represents the period of adaptation during which people come to terms with the consequences of the events of change. The transition is not concrete and is not the same for all those who live it.
Surely, it could be argued that a transition is also a period of time, but it is above all a constellation of thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions that we have, or do, in response to an event of change. Not understanding the difference between change and transition is an important contribution to the failure to manage change.
The difference between change and transition is well focused and there are three things you can do to improve your effectiveness in guiding people through a transition process to achieve OKRS – Objectives and key results.
Be aware of the transition process
People experience the transition differently because of their personal experience with past changes and how they are influenced by current change.
You must be deeply aware of where people are in the transition process …
- How are you reacting to change and how do others react?
- What emotions and behaviors do you observe in yourself and in others?
- In which transition phase are you and where are the others?
People need emotional support during the transition.
For example, during the termination phase, are you empathetic and respectful of what others are experiencing?
During exploration, are you encouraging creativity and creating the environment necessary to find a better way to operate?
During the new beginning, are you celebrating success and reinforcing the attitudes and behaviors necessary to bring about change?
Provide information and means
You can’t hope to get a change without providing all the necessary information and means, i.e. equipping people to start the new adventure.
Many want a change in others, but then they do nothing to support them.
But above all, after having understood the difference between change and transition, do your best to ensure that the transition takes place successfully: it is the only way to achieve change.