Dealing with change and the 5Rs

What is the difference between change and transition? And how can understanding this help you in your work and life? In this article, we'll explore the difference between change and transition and how the 5Rs framework can help you navigate both. We'll also give you some practical tips for how to use this framework in your own life. So if you're ready to learn about change and transition, this is for you!

Dealing with change can be difficult and yet the one certainty about life is that change happens whether we like it or not and whether we are ready for it or not

Whether it’s dealing with personal change, working from home, a change relating to starting at a new place of work or a new role, you’ll be familiar with the feelings. They range from excitement to anxiety, elation to dread and can leap from one extreme to the other. As you begin dealing with change, feelings often start to level out but often it is fair to say that low-grade stress still sits in the pit of your stomach, waiting to rear its ugly head.

It's very common to feel this way when dealing with change. And here's why:

In our work, we encourage people to see change and transition as two different things. The difference is subtle but important.

Change is external and what happens to us in our environment even if we don’t agree with it e.g. a new boss, a change in role or a new IT system.

Transition is internal, it’s how we think about change, engage and respond to it. Change can happen relatively quickly, whereas transition can be a much slower adaption process. Having the skills to adapt means transitioning is the holy grail of successfully dealing with change. 

When looking at cultural change in organisations Kate Berardo’s 5R model highlights the fundamental significance of:

  • Routines
  • Reactions 
  • Roles 
  • Relationships   
  • Reflections about ourselves 

This 5R’s framework offers both practical insight into ourselves during transition and using a platform for resilience as a key enabler of our capacity to not just survive during change but to transition and thrive. We think of them as dealing with change tips for anyone.


Routines guide our behaviour. When change happens, we default to our daily habits and routines that act as buffers to stress and give us certainty about how things work. Our routines are usually among the first things to get disrupted as the ‘new’ replaces the ‘old.’ What we may not realise is that with the old routines gone, agitation and uncertainty creep in. If we are not careful, stress, negative emotions, paralysis or resistant behaviour follows. 

Developing resilience skills enables you to:  

  • Gain personal insight into how you perceive and deal with change  
  • Manage uncertainty and focus on what you can control  
  • Manage wellbeing and performance in yourself and those around you  
  • Reduce stress and identify and introduce important routines that are constant and add stability in times of change 
  • Explore your thinking habits & how they distort your experiences
Dealing with change | Dealing with change tips


Our reactions to change can surprise us. New situations often involve new relationships and getting to know new people can be tricky. Reactions can be unexpected and stressful and without realising it, influence how we see ourselves. Our confidence often plummets and high levels of uncertainty creep in as we begin to question ourselves and our abilities. As a result, it’s understandable to withdraw from some situations to minimise any negative feedback or even adopt a critical attitude towards the new environment you find yourself in. 

Developing resilience skills enables you to:  

  • Maintain flexible & balanced thinking under pressure 
  • Reduce social & emotional triggers in both yourself & the people around you 
  • Communicate your needs without being seen as aggressive 
  • Identify your strengths and use them to overcome doubt and uncertainty


Roles are a part of our identity and change often comes with a change in roles or responsibilities. For example, a promotion at work, a side-ways transition or transitioning from employee to parent or student to employee. Transitions like these often require a new way of thinking and new ways of doing things that enable a renewed sense of purpose, focus and achievement that becomes part of who we are. Put simply, our roles become part of our identity. Amend those roles and the danger is we lose purpose and meaning. We lose some of our identity. 

Developing resilience skills enables you to:  

  • Gain a deeper understanding of who you are, your strengths and your values beyond seeing your role as an identity  
  • Integrate skills & strategies that reduce stress & increase engagement when routines change 
  • Identify your positive personality traits that reflect “how” you like to go about your daily routine


Relationships rule the world and it’s often said that quality of our life can be judged by the quality of our relationships. Positive, supportive and satisfying relationships with others promote wellbeing, teamwork and objective focus during stressful or challenging situations.  

Transitioning affects our relationships in various ways. Creating a potential for either ostracising or dismissing others or thriving together through shared experiences and solutions. Good relationships promote confidence, reassurance and satisfaction during times of change, whilst negative relationships can result in worry, guilt and a sense of loss. Skills to build new relationships and maintain strong and trusting existing ones is key to resilient transitions.  

Developing resilience skills enables you to:  

  • Reduce social & emotional triggers in both yourself & the people around you  
  • Learn behaviours that build, restore & extend relationships with others 
  • Adopt a positive mentality to task completion and use techniques to become more productive  
  • Turn obstacles into opportunity by solving problems objectively, managing emotions & using creativity & intuition

Reflections - about ourselves

Transitions can often change the way we think about ourselves. Our beliefs and values may become more pronounced without us even realising it. We may recognise changes in our own behaviour, new habits, gestures, and even ways of thinking. As we start to ask ourselves questions about where we belong, purpose and meaning or how we feel, we may experience a range of emotions towards the new environment and the way it is affecting us.  

Developing resilience skills enables you to:  

  • Lower stress levels in yourself as you make those transitions 
  • Explore your thinking habits & how they sometimes hinder your ability to deal with change  
  • Identify and understand your values, why they are important to you and how they influence your behaviour 
  • Identify & leverage your strengths so you can tap into them when you need them the most 

Bringing it all together

Our capacity to build and maintain resilience is fundamental to successful transitioning, adapting and dealing with change. In times of unpredictability, stability and certainty break down as our routines are disrupted, our reactions become extreme and intense, our relationships change, roles shift, and we experience a potentially unfamiliar and new sense of identity. Such changes can be overwhelming and therefore make dealing with change difficult. 

Skill-based resilience removes many of the risks associated with the human side of change. Enabling a process of self-awareness and a different and more proactive approach towards change that focuses on wellbeing, relationships, clarity and direction and an opportunity to confidently find the optimal balance of energy between seeing both the opportunities and obstacles associated with that inevitable thing we call change.  

Please note: The 5Rs of Culture Change was created by Kate Berardo of Culturosity and was featured in her book Building Cultural Competence

Looking for more on transition?

Listen to Jon from our team talk about his transition from Special Forces to civilian life

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