Endings and beginnings


It’s been a tough few weeks and I feel sure it’s not quite over yet but I thought it might be better to write this in the middle of it rather than after it, if you know what I mean. I’m talking about endings and beginnings – moving from one job to another.Bridges

When I was at Roffey Park on my OD practitioner programme I fell in love with the Bridges Model of change. What is it that I love? I love the humanistic approach that it takes and how it almost ignores mechanistic approaches to change, placing a greater emphasis on how people react and eventually embrace change. I have been going through a change process and I think had people focussed on Bridges it could have been a whole lot less painful!

Bridges says there are 3 phases of change:

  1. Ending, losing and letting go
  2. The neutral zone
  3. The new beginning

Firstly I think good endings are important. They represent the chance to reflect back and unpick what has happened, good and bad, but importantly to celebrate achievements, to say thanks and to celebrate the moving on. Never leave people to go without acknowledging they played a part in whatever happened and say good luck. Marking the end for me appears to be important and without that I am left with a residual unpleasant aftertaste. Did anyone know I was even there?!old job new job

The second phase, the neutral zone, can be a scary place. It’s slow, it feels almost relentless, no matter how long or short it is, too slow for those of us who like pace. It’s like a grey middle ground, I am left with feelings of being neither here, nor there, with no sense of belonging. Fortunately for me I am old enough and experienced enough to know it will pass but it doesn’t stop me getting a lump in my throat and feeling tearful – it in other words it brings out less than the best in me.

So good beginnings, how can we do this? Create positive energy and make people feel welcome. Look after them like you would want to be cared for yourself. Look after the practical things to make the transition as easy as possible, for example make sure they have somewhere to sit and can make a drink! Simple things make a difference, no detail will go unnoticed. It’s a time when simple human kindness can help someone feel at home. Other tips include clarity about what will happen next but not too much, give them time to settle and also influence how it goes – no one wants to find themselves with no room for ideas, or manoeuvrability. I think a good beginning can colour and influence what happens next, where loyalties lie and how much of the discretionary effort people might be prepared to give as time moves on.Coffee

So what have I learnt? That we should celebrate endings, that people need support in transition and that good beginnings really matter. Simple messages really – maybe that’s why we forget.

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7 thoughts on “Endings and beginnings

  1. So true Annie: many forget the transitions required for each individual when making changes ( no matter how small they may appear to an outsider looking in). Just asking someone to move thier desk in the office can have a massive impact for that person.

  2. Lovely blog Annie. So many people are scared of endings and have bad experiences of endings. The worst endings especially on projects are those that fizzle out. My experience is that fizzle equates to failure and people making sure little attention is drawn to the ending. I do like the comment you make about celebrating endings. I am clear that this can help people through the ending process. These psychological processes are so important and so often overlooked causing habits and hence cultures in organisations. Interesting to take forward whether a project that isn’t successful is ended well with lessons learnt and celebrated so it doesn’t happen again?

  3. Hi Mike, I think we should create time for endings for projects even those that fizzle out. There is always nuggets that create space for celebration. They may be relationships, unexpectedly outcomes or learning. Bridges is compelling for me, maybe based on life experience but it definitely resonates. Also, I suspect, in the NHS we gallop onto the next thing and never take breath. We should 🙂 Thank you for commenting so wisely Anne x

  4. Great blog, I really identify with this at the moment. I am about to leave my current role after just a year, to start afresh. Both the beginning and ending of my current role have been negative, so I am trying to look forward to my new start with positivity and clarity. This blog has inspired me!

  5. Anna im glad it helped. If I have any advice its to make sure you celebrate what you are leaving too, warts and all so you can move on speedily to a much better beginning. Lots of this around at mo. Good luck with fresh starts. Xxxx

  6. Endings and beginnings | Health Blog Round-up |...

  7. On the button AGAIN I made a difficult transition some 18months ago and I am only really just moving on.My colleagues were wonderful at that time I felt values and blessed. I have missed them so much but now finally ready to face the future. Never apologise for an emotional response it demonstrates our humanity.

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