Whether you’re an individual working for a company that’s going through a period of change, or a manager who needs to help steer your team through the rough waters of change, the following should help you navigate safely to a place of acceptance and calm. Here, I explain about the different emotions that people go through at the mere thought of change; it’s important to recognise those emotions and realise that they are normal.
As Brian Mayne said, “Change is like the wind that blows – we cannot direct it nor stop it, but we can adjust the set of our sails.”
Change is something that happens all the time. Change is a constant, if that isn’t a contradiction in terms! And change is generally a good thing. Because unless we change, we never move forwards. We stand still and become stagnant, which is not conducive to success.
An emotional reaction to change is inevitable
For a lot of people, they would prefer to maintain the status quo and are happy in their comfort zone. There are some who thrive on change and relish new challenges but most of us need time to come to terms with being told that a significant change is imminent, such as changing location, a restructure or new role. Even if it’s a positive change, it can still take time to work through all the emotions and feel okay with the situation.
In fact, many people are suspicious of change and fearful of the unknown. That is a normal human reaction. So, because change is happening constantly, we need to learn how to manage those responses if we are to make progress.
The Kubler-Ross Change Curve
Have a look at the Kubler-Ross Change Curve, illustrated above. If you’ve recently been told about a change that needs to happen, where are you on that curve? This is a useful exercise to do with other members of your team.
It takes a bit of time to move along the curve, and the timeframe is different for everyone. Some will get there quickly, others will take much longer and it will depend also on the scale of the change.
Morale and confidence fluctuate as you navigate through these stages of coming to terms with change.
When a change is first imposed upon you, the natural response is one of shock. After experiencing a period of denial (hoping that if it’s ignored, it won’t happen), maybe even feeling angry, you may slump into the pit of despair. That’s when you lose motivation, lack energy and your productivity dips.
Eventually, you realise that the change won’t go away and you need to get your head around it. Once you start to work with the idea, experimenting on how to do things differently, you find yourself tentatively engaging with the change.
That’s when you start to think, “How can this change benefit me? How can I integrate it into my normal pattern of life?” It’s then that acceptance occurs and your start to feel more positive about it. Eventually, you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.
For minor changes, you might pass through all the stages of the curve in a matter of hours (or even minutes). For major changes at work or in life, sometimes the process can take weeks or months. When I’m brought in to coach a client through change very often the goal is to accelerate bringing them to that point of acceptance and minimising the depth of the despair dip.
EQ – Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is receiving a higher profile these days and with good reason. When it comes to change, having a high level of emotional intelligence helps you to realise where you are on the curve and understand that your feelings are normal.
Coaching can increase your level of emotional intelligence which in turn helps you to see where you are and where you’re heading. The benefit to individuals and teams is that it allows them to focus on those members who may be struggling more than others. The manager can ask the coach to assist with their fears and anxieties, helping them become more comfortable throughout the process.
In a team situation, people are bound to be at different points of the change curve at any one time. Again, a coach will work with them as a group and individually, helping to find out what is triggering any resistance to change. The value of the coach is that they are completely objective, having no vested interest in the outcome of the change. The coach is a safe person for people to air their concerns to. People often talk to me confidentially, knowing it’s confidential, and that helps them to move to a better place on the change curve.
Ultimately, going through change is eased with the engagement of outside help which provides a confidential sounding board and ally.
Finally, I particularly love this quote by C. S. Lewis:
“You can’t go back and change the beginning but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
How to Influence Positive Change
This week is International Coaching Week 2019. My theme with clients this year will be “Coping with Change – both sought and unexpected”.
Coaching is an ideal way to deal with all those emotions that automatically manifest themselves when dealing with change. It is a subject that I’ve been frequently involved with in recent years and as a result, Wild Empowerment provides three coaching options that have helped many businesses and their employees:
- One-to-One Coaching – entirely private and confidential, if you find yourself in a situation that feels uncomfortable, or you’re having difficulty in coming to terms with some necessary change, give me a call. I provide a free, 15-minute confidential chat where we will explore your options.
- Team Coaching – if your teams are struggling and need a place to re-evaluate their objectives and value within the organisation, as well as amongst themselves as a group, they will benefit from this group coaching workshop.
- Influencing Positive Change – this workshop helps provide the skills and techniques needed for both individuals and teams to adapt to, and finally accept, the change that’s needed. Choose either a full day for a group, or half a day for an individual.
Who do you know who needs help with change? Whether it’s for yourself, someone else or your teams, for more details about any aspect of my coaching services, give me a call on 07766 004964 or reply to this email.