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Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges
by William Bridges
Da Capo Press, 144 pages, $11.53

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Developing strategies to deal with transitions on a personal level is something we all try to do. Managing Transitions shows managers how to take those tactics and apply them at an organizational level. With stories of bailouts, corporate mergers, and layoffs in the news, managers who neglect to address how these transitions affect their teams and what they can do about them imperil their businesses. Change is inevitable. Any supervisor seeking ways to better transition their teams will welcome Bridge's observations on how to change with the tumultuous times.

The first thing Bridges does is make a distinction between transitions and changes, maintaining that "it isn't the changes that do you in, it's the transitions." Because transition is a psychological process, it's more intangible and harder to cope with. "The starting point for dealing with transition is not the outcome, but the ending that you'll have to make to leave the old situation behind," writes Bridges. He identifies these three phases to making a successful transition:

1) Letting go of the old ways and old identity you had.

2) The Neutral Zone – when the old is gone, but the new isn't fully operational – psychological re-patterning and re-aligning takes place.

3) Development of New Identity and discovery of a new sense of purpose.

Managing Transitions uses the example of Benetton buying sporting goods companies including Prince tennis rackets and Nordika skis to illustrate a botched transition. Unfortunately for employees of these companies, Benetton handled the change, but failed to deal with the transition. Workers incurred psychological losses tied to re-locating, and their esprit de corps was fractured. The result was a loss of morale in workers and a devastating financial loss for Benetton.

Managers are instructed on positive ways to deal with resistance to change. Because changes cause transitions which cause losses, it's natural for employees to get emotional in the midst of a transition. Leaders unwilling to face this human component are not acknowledging that people's reactions are often illogical. Checklists provided at the end of chapters are great tools for implementing change. According to Bridges, the attitude that workers will just have to accept change doesn't fly in today's workplace. Managing Transitions is a tactful, useful guide for managers at all levels in the Who Moved My Cheese? age.

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