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Barbara has also written an article on People and Transitioning – The psychological aspects you can’t afford to ignore.

First principles of psychological transitioning.

Transitioning is a huge subject which can affect all areas of working life. If we accept that organisations are living systems then outsourcing just one department will have implications for and impact many areas: the organisation’s vision, direction, strategy, structure, behaviours, relationships with customers, career aspirations and culture ( “all the ways we do things around here”)

Tensions are normal when members of one culture are required to interact with a second culture and adopt its way of doing things. It is even more of a challenge when cross national issues have to be accommodated. However human beliefs, values and emotions remain central motivators for change in personal behaviour. How those emotions are expressed depends on social conventions and need to be understood and sensitively handled during transition.

Much of the “transition” takes place internally, within individuals, as they come to terms with change. Much of the turmoil is invisible which is why many outsourcing initiatives, wrongly, do not think their process has to be people intensive.

Left to flounder, members of staff can cling to the old way of doing things because it is familiar and comfortable. Organisational change can create huge uncertainty and fear. After all, it is often prompted by the need to reduce costs – and reduce headcount. But efficiency and customer service levels must be maintained. How to keep the workforce motivated and effective, especially during transition, poses particular challenges.

Clearly the answer lies in paying attention to the human side of the transition process. It is too important to ignore, since it is people and their relationships at all levels that will make or break a speedy, productive transition and ensure “business as usual”.

Managing transition well is a technical and emotional discipline which all leaders need to master. This skill should not be left to the board, senior managers and HR, although they play a crucial part. All line managers have an important role to play and are vital to successful transition. Managers who ignore the human side of change quickly show themselves as ineffective leaders.

For managers who balk at being “touchy-feely” there’s some good news. Dealing with the psychological changes of transition is not a burden they shoulder alone. In fact, empowering staff is one of the most successful ways of helping them to cope with organisational change. Amidst uncertainty, ambiguity, new ways of working, new role definitions, new locations, job losses and the general chaos of change, it is possible for individuals and their managers to manage themselves proactively and positively.

The key is to enable members of staff to take more responsibility for their part in the transition, to engage them in the process of change and to support each other in delivering improved future performance for the organisation. In short, it’s about letting an individual feel in control of his or her destiny.