Victim, Survivor, or Navigator?

Choosing a Response to Workplace Change



This highly participative and engaging course enables participants to identify their workplace challenges and choose a constructive response to them. The course can be tailored for a general audience or specifically for managers. The course will benefit anyone whose workplace is in the throes of change. 

Typical one-day program:


Opening remarks and agenda

Brief relaxation exercise

THEN/NOW exercise 

Participants are broken into small discussion groups based on their years of service to the company. Each group answers two questions: What was the company like when I first joined? What is it like now? After a few minutes of conversation, participants turn their words into symbols. Each group tells us about the symbols and the entire group draws lessons from the experience. (See next page.) Participants see Then/Now pictures from other groups.

VSN “chalk talk”

This is where the VSN model is introduced using a simple flip chart. Participants are highly involved by way of asking for examples, some of which are drawn from the Then/Now exercise.

VSN case study

A case study is described and participants at their tables are asked, “What would this person do if in Victim mode? Survivor mode? Navigator mode?” The idea here is to get them to use the language and become familiar with the concepts.

VSN self-assessment

Participants fill out a questionnaire (it’s in the book) and discuss their scores with a partner. Most people score as “Survivor-like Navigators.” Subsequent discussion cements understanding of the model.

Relaxation exercise

This is a simple breath-observing exercise. Participants are encouraged to follow daily physical exercise with a relaxation exercise to take advantage of the “parasympathetic rebound effect,” the body’s tendency to go into a deep state of rest after physical exertion.


William Bridges phases of transition: how to go through the phases as a Navigator

We introduce the difference between change and transition. We introduce the Bridges transition model (Endings, Neutral Zone, New Beginnings) get people up and standing where they perceive the company to be right now. (Ex: “Stand here if you think most people are in Ending.”) We hear several stories and talk about the psychological work of employees and leaders in each of these phases of transition. “Now, where are you? Stand here is you feel that you are in the New Beginning, etc.”

Identification of workplace stressors

Ambiguity, conflict, overload: these are the three most common types of workplace stressors. In this exercise, we use the “Job Tensions Index” (it’s in the book) to help participants pinpoint their sources of work stress.

A progression of change management tactics

A model of personal transition management is introduced 

[Optional, for managers: We can do sessions just for managers. In these sessions, we introduce the “Productivity Dip” cycle common to most organizational change and guide managers in thinking through how to maintain productivity during change.]

Personal action planning

Participants are told that what they learn in the seminar is guaranteed to work; but only if they use it! We guide them in creating a personal plan of action which they share with a partner.

Closing exercise

Participants are asked to share what they got from the day that they most value and why.