Managing transition; moving from unfreeze to freeze

Managing transition; moving from unfreeze to freeze

Managing transition takes time and needs leadership and support! The three stages of change identified by psychologist Kurt Lewin are the basis of most managing transitionchange management approaches today. They are very easy to understand – unfreeze, transition, re-freeze! Recently I wrote here about how to unfreeze. This post deals with managing transition. Sometimes transition can be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than arrive – particularly for the team leading the change. It is very easy to get caught up in this middle stage.

Here are some techniques to help you in managing transition

Give them a challenge

Stimulate people into change by challenging them to achieve something remarkable. So, show confidence in their ability to get out of their comfort zone and do what has not been done before. This can work particularly well with small groups, as well as individuals. And, once the group has bought the challenge, with some support from you, they will bounce off each other to make it happen.

It is most effective when the people create their own stretch goals. So rather than telling them to do something, challenge them to achieve greatly. Then, when they are fired up, ask them how far they can go.

Coach them

Are people are having difficulty in managing to adapt to change? Do you, or your colleagues, have coaching skills? Plus, have you enough time? If so, working with people one to one can be particularly effective. But you do need to know what you are doing. So it really is worth carefully identifying those who have been trained in coaching. If you can afford it, hire a qualified, experienced, coach to help people through this time.

In a change situation, coaches need time and skills to understand the individual person. This is so they can uncover internal problems which might be creating barriers. The approach seems expensive and it is often reserved for senior executives. But it can be a good investment further down the management chain. And, it is certainly helpful for any senior manager who has to go through change themselves, while leading their team through change

Use Facilitators

Use skilled facilitators to support change activities. If you don’t have any, either hire them in or train your own. Facilitators can be used to guide various group events. For example, this could be brainstorming or planning the change. Facilitators can also act as team coaches, helping people to improve within themselves and work together in better ways. Often in change people know what needs doing. But they do not know how to change or work together in the new context.

Facilitators literally ‘make things easier’. They do this in meetings and group sessions. This is by owning the process whereby decisions and other activities are done. Although facilitators never own the content. Thus, they will help you make a decision, but they will not make the decision for you. Facilitators are particularly useful for leaders who want to engage in a meeting without worrying about its process.

Education and Training

Teach people about the need for change. Show them that embracing change is a far more effective life strategy than staying where they are or resisting. Teach them about the models and methods of change. This is about how to be logical and creative in improving processes and organisations. The approach can include presentations, communications and full-on training sessions. Education, done well, draws out understanding from the other person rather than talking at them.

Leading in change is itself often a process of education. An issue in change is that people often feel powerless. Education gives them the power to change. On the training front, remember usually it’s going to be much cheaper to re-train than to recruit. So, help your people gain the skills they are going to need in the new organisation.

The next post, on Lewin’s third stage – re-freezing, follows shortly.

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. You can contact her at

Wendy has written a little eBook on how to get on with your boss and a book on job search – you can find her books on Amazon at this link



One thought on “Managing transition; moving from unfreeze to freeze”

  1. Pingback: Bewildered by the change you have to make – here is help! | Wisewolf Talking – the simple approach to change!

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