The Bridges Model of Change

In the last week it seems like the only good news has been coming from the Olympics in Japan. It’s been a terrible week in the United States, with the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant, the extreme weather, forest fires and floods, challenges to school and business reopenings — the list is a long one. There is so much weighing on all of our minds.

The only thing certain right now is continuing uncertainty. We’re in the midst of great changes. But we have no idea where things will ultimately lead us, nor of the necessary steps along the way.

Organizational consultant William Bridges developed a model of the human side of change that I’ve always found helpful. The model looks at the three stages people experience during change: (i) Endings (of what currently is), and then the (ii) Transition toward (iii) New Beginnings. It’s valuable to have all employees understand the model.

Where are we now? Is it an ending? Probably. Surely it’s a time of transition. But the new beginning may still be some time off.

As a manager I’ve learned that different people will always be at different places on the Bridges curve at different times. A good leader understands where employees are on the curve, and anticipates the next stage where they are headed.

I always found that it’s important to validate staff concerns by talking about the challenges and paradoxes that we all face. By painting a path that acknowledges their stress but offers optimism and confidence, you can inspire employees to attack the new reality with energy and enthusiasm.

  • Are you prepared for change? Map your position on the Bridges model.

Read more about the Bridges Transition Model here:

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