Managing Change Series – Managing Change Part 1

Written by Temi Onanuga

This is an extract from my recent studies on CHANGE, which aims to summarise key takeaways, by focussing on dealing with change by one’s self without going into full details on how you might help others deal/cope with change.

Though challenging, there is no running away from change. If change is well planned and formulated, it can produce positive results but even in spite of planning, change is hard to incorporate, accept and appreciate.

This write up throws light on the Kubler-Ross Change model that is the most reliable tool to understand change and the stages associated with it (Change Curve)

According to John Cryan, ‘’Change can be disruptive but not an excuse to default to the status quo’’

What does CHANGE mean for You?

We often think about Change at work as a significant event but in fact, change is something we deal with every day.

A move to a new team, the Introduction of a new system or a new client coming on board are all things we encounter regularly.

It is important to be able to deal with change, as it also reflects on your management style.

You have your job to manage, carrying out everything it entails at the same time as adjusting to change, plus you probably have a team to support while you are dealing with the impact of Change on your own role and career.

In the 1960s, Elisabeth Kübler- Ross, a psychologist, developed a curve, still used today, to demonstrate how we process change.

Although her work was concerned with the process of grief, it was and still is relevant to change: like bereavement, change involves the process of saying goodbye to something and is a difficult thing for many people.

When going through change, it is important to understand these feelings are absolutely normal.

Understand your own situation and manage Change yourself:

A clear understanding of the Change curve will help adapt to and manage change positively. Know where you are on the Change Curve

‘’It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” Charles Darwin

CHANGE Morales and Competence – Shock, Denial, Frustration, Depression, Experiment, Decision, Integration (Kübler-Ross Change Curve)

  1. Shock – This is the first stage of Surprise or shock at the event. This may be written on people’s faces, either because they lack the full information, or because they fear the unknown, doing something wrong, or looking foolish.

  1. Denial – Disbelief looking for evidence that it isn’t true. It is common for people to enter denial after the initial shock has passed: ‘Everything is okay as it is, why do we need to change?’…‘Change won’t really happen’…‘If it does happen it won’t affect me’… At this stage, people often carry on as they have before and make excuses to avoid involvement in forward planning. This is an attempt to protect themselves from disruption.

  1. Frustration – Recognising that things are different, sometimes angry. The dip following denial can be a really tough time. The clash of reality and denial of change often leads to frustration. People feel sorry for themselves, seeing themselves as victims and blaming others for the change they have not yet accepted.

  1. Depression– Low mood; lacking in energy. The next stage is depression. As the anger and frustration wear off, people begin to process that the change is happening. Performance is at its lowest, and people can fixate on small issues and problems. Often this is described as a ‘well’ or a ‘pit’, and people can find it hard to lift themselves out of it.

  1. Experiment– Initial engagement with the new situation. This is where people start to try new things out: ‘…Perhaps some of these changes might be worth thinking about after all…’ They might ask for the description of that new job or new office location. People slowly begin to let go of denial and instead, work with the change, considering the things they could do.

  1. Decision – Learning how to work in the new situation; feeling more positive. People are coming to terms with what has happened and beginning to feel more positive about the future. They are slowly accepting the change and reaching new decisions on what works best for them, which increases their self-esteem.  At this stage, people feel more in control about what is happening and can even feel surprised that the change didn’t happen sooner.

  1. Integration – Changes integrated; a rewarded individual. People have accepted the change, worked with it, and finally built it into their lives, allowing them to move forward. The old situation isn’t talked about or thought of that much. The new world is established and energy levels are high.

If you are feeling familiar with the Kübler-Ross Change Curve, you may want to take some extra time to review, so that you understand your situation and are well placed to provide support to others.

Once you know where you are, it might be useful to find a peer who you can talk to about how you process things for yourself. It is important your own change curve doesn’t slow down others, so make sure you remain positive and work through your situation independently of others/your team.

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