As humans, it is proven that we do not like change. Humans are creatures of habit – think about the many things you do because you have always done it that way and never thought to change eg. the route you drive to work, the day/ time you exercise, what you have for breakfast, etc. Change can be positive and bring about beneficial transformations or be adverse. Either way, in hindsight, change often provide valuable lessons to be learnt from – even if it is a small takeaway, there is something learnt.
However, we often don’t think about the changes that have consistently been occurring in our lives. Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” In my experience, this remains true. Think about what has changed in your life – schools, jobs, moving houses, travelling, getting a new car, meeting a special someone and sharing your life with them, having a family, etc. The list goes on, however, most of these changes are usually ones we have chosen, so there is lesser tendency to have negative feelings towards them or resist the change(s). However, when change is thrust upon us, as humans, our first instinct is to resist it. Catalysts of change can often be life altering experiences eg. death of loved ones, near-death experiences, falling in/ out of love, having a family, introduction of something new, etc. In a work situation, the catalyst is usually driven by a change in processes, systems, legislation or all three. Change could also be driven by various catalysts, not limited to just these.
In my career, working on many change related projects – I’ve learnt the change management cycle is akin to the grief cycle. When change is introduced into our lives, according to the Kubler-Ross Change curve, we progress through this cycle, beginning with Shock, Denial, Frustration, Depression – then we Experiment, make a Decision and Integrate the change(s) into our life.
Below, is the Kubler- Ross Model for grief to provide a comparison. The stages for grief are Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining & Acceptance. As you can see, the stages are very similar to change.
In each of these cycles, we progress through each stage. The time taken to go through each stage is different for each person but each person will progress through these stages whether or not they like/ want to. This may explain why humans tend not to embrace change readily. There are people who tend to embrace change more readily than others and will go through the stages quicker – this may depend on their life experiences, outlook, attitude and stage of their lives. However, neither is right or wrong – just different. It’s useful to be aware of this when dealing with people in life or within a work environment because often in the work environment, the change(s) are not chosen by the individual. The change may be strategic ie. bigger picture eg. legislation, processes, systems which may change how a job is done, who an individual may work with, who they report to, etc. Change management is a complex beast when managing it within organisations as well as life in general.
Throughout my life and career, I’ve been involved in managing change through project work and, as a result have a tendency to progress through the stages more readily. Attitude, communication & behaviour styles all contribute to how change is accepted (or rejected). What I have found, is when change has not been implemented correctly ie. not obtaining buy-in, little/ no communication – prior, during and post implementation of change and not asking for help when required, the aftermath is often worse then the change that is being implemented. The biggest lesson is that change is a tricky beast and as always, prevention is better than cure.
It is helpful to be aware of where people may be in the change cycle so communication and behaviours can be managed. I have found communication is key – too little can cause mistrust as people feel information is being withheld or don’t know what is happening or about to happen – or both. On the flip-side, when there is too much ie. information overload, the information, although useful can be ignored. Until you communicate, you never know where/ what stage people are at with change. This helps you to help them deal and cope with the change more effectively. When assumptions are made, this may result in applying remedies which may be incorrect or incomplete.
What has been your experience of change? Have you been able to overcome the challenges, accept and implement change or have you resisted the change or still resisting change? Take a moment to reflect how you have managed change in your life, where you are at with the change(s) and what you feel is the best way forward. If you or someone you know would like assistance to manage change – I would be happy to assist. My aim is creating your light bulb moments, enabling you to Laugh.Love.Live!
This is my biggest project to date, my website is a work in progress – it looks great, but if you read my blog titled Under Construction, it mentions a Manager who commented “Aren’t all websites a work in progress?”.
Thanks for all your support thus far and look forward to your continued support! Peace and blessings!