The Neutral Zone–Stage 2 of Change

“I’m confused.” 

“I’m unsure of my role in the new system.”

“The change is creating extra work for me.”

“We should be further along than we are.”

The comments above reflect team member concerns during Stage 2 of change.  Bill Bridges identifies Stage 2 as the Neutral Zone.  Some members continue to cling to the old ways, and most do not have a clear vision of the new.  Confusion, uncertainty, impatience, and fear may generate low morale, anxiety and skepticism during this stage.

Stay with targeted deadlines during the Neutral Zone but avoid the temptation to press issues.  Rather, consider deprioritizing some items and perhaps offer additional resources where practical.  

To guide members through the Neutral Zone, let people know that their concerns are normal.  Focus on short-term operational goals and key performance indicators (KPI’s).  Display metrics that show progress toward outcomes and give individuals frequent feedback on their individual contributions. 

Depending on the complexity of the change, the Neutral Zone may last for weeks or even months.  Just know that unsettling concerns and emotions are a normal and they will eventually pass.

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