I recently managed 2 software teams through an interesting and rocky transition. The entire process was truly difficult for the existing team who had to accept new people were being hired to take over product development as part of a planned transition. I observed how much of an emotional challenge the team endured. As a PM/SM piloting this transition, I learnt a few new techniques managing poeple resisting change. You really need to balance switching leadership styles to successfully navigate such a transition. When people get the first memo, they panic, stop working as one team, create a wall of self interest, this makes it difficult to get the best from them. In doing some research about helping people through this, I came across William Bridges model of the emotions around change, which really draws a picture of our journey.
As per the curve, an individual moves through three distinct phases: Endings, Neutral Zone and New Beginnings. We see the human experience of change and the drop in productivity with emotional states which exist around ending, and that productivity only starts to rise again during the new beginning. Bridges’ model shows, as the new circumstance becomes understood and accepted people become fully engaged and productive again. Managing the flow of communication effectively with a plan and demonstrating forward moving momentum are good ways to manage this process.