We all know that change is not easy, even when it's necessary.
As human beings, we question change, fear change, and at times resist change.
Often, change is timely or even overdue, and is needed to remain fresh, competitive, and in sync with changes in the external and internal environment.
At other times, change could be conceived of for selfish, arbitrary, politically motivated, or poorly thought out reasons.
People often react to change negatively, saying things such as:
- “Everything is really fine, why are you rocking the boat?”
- “This will never work” or “We’ve already tried that and it didn’t work.”
- “This is just the pendulum swinging back the other way again.”
- “Thing are now going to be even worse than before.”
- “I’ll never do that!”
The key to dealing with change is not to dismiss people’s feelings, but to take the time to thoroughly understand them, to take input from them for change, and to explain what is changing (precisely), for whom, when, where, and why.
The more precise, timely and thorough the communications with people, the better people will be able to deal with change.
To successfully plan and implement change, we need people to be engaged and on-board rather than to ignore or subvert it.
Below is a nice “change model” From http://www.changecycle.com/changecycle.htm that helps explain the stages of change that people go through including loss, doubt, discomfort, discovery, understanding, and integration.
To me the keys to managing through these six stages of change are solid information, clear communications, and people working together.
(All of the text below is quoted)
Stage 1 – Loss to Safety
In Stage 1 you admit to yourself that regardless of whether or not you perceive the change to be good or 'bad" there will be a sense of loss of what "was."
Stage 2 – Doubt to Reality
In this stage, you doubt the facts, doubt your doubts and struggle to find information about the change that you believe is valid. Resentment, skepticism and blame cloud your thinking.
Stage 3 – Discomfort to Motivation
You will recognize Stage 3 by the discomfort it brings. The change and all it means has now become clear and starts to settle in. Frustration and lethargy rule until possibility takes over.
The Danger Zone
The Danger Zone represents the pivotal place where you make the choice either to move on to Stage 4 and discover the possibilities the change has presented or to choose fear and return to Stage 1.
Stage 4 – Discovery to Perspective
Stage 4 represents the "light at the end of the tunnel." Perspective, anticipation, and a willingness to make decisions give a new sense of control and hope. You are optimistic about a good outcome because you have choices.
Stage 5 - Understanding
In Stage 5, you understand the change and are more confident, think pragmatically, and your behavior is much more productive. Good thing.
Stage 6 - Integration
By this time, you have regained your ability and willingness to be flexible. You have insight into the ramifications, consequences and rewards of the change -- past, present, and future.