Change – whether it is positive, unwanted, or unknown, there is a general pattern in how people deal with change.
The Kübler-Ross Change Curve shows the range of feelings and emotions which most go through during the course of a change.
Here are the Stages of Change:
STAGE 1: DENIAL
The first part of the process is when one responds with ‘Denial’. This is when one does not acknowledge the change that is happening (for example, when one loses their job and thinks “Life will go on as usual”). As reality slowly hits, this denial decreases, replaced with the growing uncertainty of change. Before new behaviours occur, which may take some time, performance reduces, and one may stick to their comfort zone by merely doing mundane tasks.
STAGE 2: FRUSTRATION
The dip following the Denial stage can be a very tough time. Many emotions may surface, along with a grief for losing the old ways. Before the next stage of adapting to the new begins, resistance or even unwillingness to engage will reduce morale, and ultimately lower performance even more. This is a vulnerable time where one may become trapped around the low point of change, needing strong direction to move forward.
STAGE 3: ACCEPTANCE
The third stage is Acceptance, which comes with exploration. One may sometimes find their own way; or they may need guidance from a leader. By exploring and engaging with the new ways of acting and working, one develops their confidence, which increases their morale and performance. However, this is an unstable process that can be easily disrupted, especially in the early fragile stages of recovery.
STAGE 4: COMMITMENT
The final stage is the only time when one is likely to fully commit and become independently responsible for themselves in their change. The potential benefit is that where there is a robust and positive change, future performance and morale will be greater than it ever was before.
By gaining an understanding of these stages, you will recognise the signs and symptoms. And it will allow you to identify what kind of techniques or tools to employ to help each member of your organisation successfully navigate through these often challenging stages of change.