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How to facilitate change and transformations III
Types of changes and perspectives
Changes manifest themselves in many different forms: major and minor, self-elected and imposed, acute and planned.
In our working lives, we could experience some of the following changes, for instance:
Promotions, switching jobs, mergers, reorganisations of production, lay-offs, new tasks, new terms, different methods, new colleagues, new working hours, new areas of responsibility, etc.
Whether an experience will be important enough to trigger a transition depends on the individual person. But a transition is necessary if we are suddenly unable to respond to the change we are experiencing, as for example when we must develop mentally or emotionally or will be obliged to acquire new knowledge or new skills in order to deal with the changed conditions.
A given change may require a great deal of adjustment on the part of some people, while others may experience it as an expected and reasonable fluctuation in an ordinary working life.
For some people, changing the time of the lunch break by a quarter of an hour, introducing payment for coffee or being moved to a neighbouring office will be considered trivialities, while others will experience them as significant changes.
A transition is a process that everybody undergoes when they experience changes that are of sufficient importance to them
The same can be said of being assigned an unfamiliar task, changing jobs or being involved in a merger. Such changes will initiate transitions in some people whereas they will seem less significant for others.
The extent to which a given change will trigger a transition depends entirely upon who we are, which situation we are in and the weight we give to the consequences of the change.
Everybody undergoes transitions
Reacting to changes is perfectly natural and something we all have in common, irrespective of our job description, position in the hierarchy of an organisation or educational background. Employees, middle managers and top executives all go through an internal process when they experience changes that are of importance to them.
We differ with respect to what we ascribe significance to and therefore also differ with respect to what will trigger a transition in us.
For example, a change can be significant if it affects our everyday, established routines, the pleasure we take in our work, our identity, or the balance between work and our private lives.
The significance of perspective
Two people can experience the same external change and yet react to it in very different ways. Some of the factors that determine our reactions include the circumstances of the individual at the workplace, relations with managers and colleagues, how well the individual’s private life functions and the individual’s personality. All of these factors can affect the significance each of us ascribe to a specific change.
Although the personal point of departure and the specific situation play an important role, it is common to transitions that the course they take follows more or less the same pattern.
Transitions influence thoughts, feelings and behaviour. They take a toll on our resources, and they give rise to experiences of loss and gain, of motivation and resistance and of reserved and unreserved acceptance.
It is important to know something about transitions precisely because they influence us in so many different ways. This knowledge can help us to react in a constructive, proactive manner to the changes we experience, and this has an effect on how we can make progress in our working lives.
Changes differ in the significance they have for us, but the transition zones have recognisable characteristics that we can prepare for