Why Manage Transitions?

What’s the difference between Change Management and Transition Management?


Change is an event.

Transition is the experience people go through as a result of the change.

Change Management focuses on physical aspects of change: what needs to be done, when, by whom, and how.

Transition Management focuses on the people, how they are affected by the change, and how they need to adapt to the change in order to continue to be productive.


People’s behaviours drive the results and performance of companies. How quickly and efficiently executives, leaders, and staff can adapt to the change will have the greatest impact on the success of the change initiatives. Transitions must be managed to enable people to let go of old ways of operating to reorient to the new.

Why Focus on the Transition?

When your people’s experience of change is overlooked, anxiety rises and their motivation to go on the change journey falls. They may feel a sense of loss in identity. People become disengaged, mistrusting of leadership, and protective of their own roles within the organisation. Silos emerge, resulting in counter-productive behaviours. People become less productive.

When these doubts are not addressed, people question their place in the future organisation, potentially resulting in higher turnover, lower morale, and loss of organisational expertise.

Transition management addresses the human side of change. It foresees and put structures in place to help people disengage from the past. It addresses the risks and opportunities posed during the in-between phases. It also sets aside resources to help people make new beginnings.

To do these things is to manage the transition. Not to do them is to launch a change that will falter.


Effective Transition Management is about:

  • Being ‘People-centric’: Even the smallest change to something might mean dramatic differences to someone’s world

  • Listening: Your teams’ opinions and experiences are important

  • Recognizing (not ridiculing) the past: Honour the past as a legacy that paved the way for the new and not ridiculing where you have come from

  • Sharing your vision: Win both the hearts and minds of people by elucidating not only what the new will “look” like, but what it would “feel” like


Transition Management is not:

  • Communicating something once and expecting it to sink in…

  • Working on procedural changes and forgetting about the people…

  • Focusing solely on an “end-result”

  • Following a plan and dragging staff through it…