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Leading People Through Change  

Based on the work of Kubler Ross on the stages of grieving, a model known as ‘The Change Curve’ has been developed to explain the journey that your people are likely to experience, emotionally and psychologically, as you lead them through change. 

Of course, individual differences apply and not everyone experiences change in exactly the same way. As a leader you’ll need to be effective and efficient through the change process. Guidelines as to what you can expect and what your team may need from you during times of significant change can help to limit ‘guessing’ time and ensure your support is more insightful. 

What can you expect and what can you try at each stage in a change process? It starts with an ending of today’s work reality and, hopefully, ends with a sense of positive anticipation for the a new future. On this journey you can expect your team members to show signs of the ‘change curve’:





STAGE ONE: SHOCK, DENIAL 


• Reality of the change hits and people need time to adjust 


• People need information to understand what is happening and how to get help 


• Communicate often but do not overwhelm 


• Take time to answer questions Prepare yourself to sell the situation. Your team members will need you to explain the problem that’s to be solved, why the change. 



STAGE TWO: ANGER, FEAR 


• People will start to react; to feel concern and vent anger and resentment 


• This is a ‘danger zone’; badly managed the situation can degenerate into chaos 


• Careful planning and preparation required to anticipate the impact and likely objections 


• Address anticipated impacts and objections early with clear communication 


• Listen, watch and respond to more personal impacts and objections that have not been anticipated 


Your people will want to know what the change will offer that is more desirable and so prepare to the sell the new vision and the benefits of change. 



STAGE THREE: ACCEPTANCE 


• The turning point; as individual and organisational acceptance grows, people will need time and support to test and explore what the change means for them personally 


• Important to lay good foundations for this stage by providing training and early opportunities to experience what the changes will bring 


• Talk with individuals about what the change can now mean for them, where opportunities and desired learning opportunities may exist 


• Do not expect 100% productivity or effectiveness and build in contingency time 


• Acknowledge behaviours in support of the change in a manner that resonates with each individual Individuals will want to know what first steps can be taken and the role they can play in rebuilding their work identity. 



STAGE FOUR: COMMITMENT

 

• New ways become second nature as people embrace improvements and the benefits 


• Reward progress and remember to celebrate successes 


People will want to feel that they have made meaningful progress that is valued and acknowledged.

This summary of the stages can be kept in mind as the next change wave hits your area:



 
STAGE

 1  2  3  4
 
STATE

 Status Quo  Disruption   Exploration  Rebuilding
 
REACTION

 Shock, Denial  Anger
 Acceptance  Commitment
 NEED  
Accurate, honest information, delivered
in meaningful chunks.

 Anticipate impacts allow
time to work

 Preparation for change and support
with  opportunity to feel.
 Feedback, rewards and
celebration. 
 
 TIMELY 
 COMMUNICATION
 INSIGHTFUL  
 COMMUNICATION
 EMPOWERING  
 COMMUNICATION
 REINFORCING
 COMMUNICATION


Change and you
You will also need to reflect on your own personal tolerances for change and ensure you seek guidance for your own journey. You may have one of the following style preferences and this could be colouring how you manage yourself and lead others through change.





STYLE* 

 PREFERENCE  WATCH OUT
 DOMINANT Thrive on change, will pioneer it and be competitive in wanting to be the first to get to the line. Strong task focus and tenacious pursuit of the end game, could be at the expense of working through deep emotion being felt at risk of creating casualties.
 INFLUENCING Finds variety exciting and willing to tap into the motivations of others to help them move with change. Desire to be popular could lead to inconsistency in how the harder messages are delivered.
 STEADY Avoids fixing what they perceive as not being broken; values the past and may resist change; will embrace change once chaos is evident as will want a return to order. Looking to the past to inform the future, could limit readiness to embrace the full opportunity sitting within a newly visioned future.
 CONSCIENTIOUS Wants to have the full facts at hand to logically demonstrate why change is necessary. Tendency to delay until all the facts are known or wait until the likely effects of change have been tested, could constrain the change opportunity being realised in a timely manner.


We’d love feedback on how you are embracing change – go to the FASTLEAD Forum

Jennifer Scott 
FASTLEAD Coaching Team 


THE LESSON FROM LEADING PEOPLE THROUGH CHANGE 

From shock to acceptance to enthusiasm – learn to take you and your team through the change curve to success.


 
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