Change again? Good grief!

How Change is Like Grief

People experience different emotions when faced with change. Change can be viewed as a grieving process of sorts. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described five stages of grief in her seminal work, ‘On Death and Dying’ in 1969.

The five stages include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance (+ Moving On)

Kubler-Ross described the experiences of terminally ill patients and the psychological stages they go through when coming to terms with their condition. Her work on grieving process can be adapted to help us understand that individuals go through these same stages when faced with any big change, including changes at work.

Different Faces – Different Paces

Different people move through the stages at different speeds, and there may be some overlap between the stages. It is important for leaders to recognize this individual process. A person’s history, the organization’s history, the type of change and the consequence of change also impact an individual’s response to change and movement through the stages.

How Can Leaders Help Throughout The Stages?

Shock / Denial

  • Start communicating that there is a change early on. This minimizes the ‘Shock/Denial’ phase, as people will have begun to see that there is a need for change, even if they are unaware of the form that it will take.
  • When the change initiative is announced, give reasons that reduce complacency and highlight a need for change. Communicate in a way that is clear and touches people emotionally, not just with loads of data. Fully communicate the end vision of the change and what your intentions are.
  • Don’t try too hard to sell people on the idea that things are better for them; they are not ready to hear this.

Anger

  • Practice patience and empathy, and don’t try to suppress conflict. Provide a verbal outlet for people to vent their upset feelings. When leaders provide opportunities for grievances and frustrations to be aired constructively, bitterness and frustration can be diminished.
  • Although people will be angry that doesn’t mean that what they say has no value, they may have legitimate concerns that could affect the success of the change initiative.
  • Remember that  most likely, people are not attacking you personally. Remain calm and patient.
  • Often leaders have been made aware of a change initiative long before their teams, so although they may be at later stages (eg, be at “Acceptance/Moving on” while general staff are still at “Shock/Denial”).  Exercise patience.

Bargaining

When people start trying to bargain, ask them to give the new dispensation a chance. A lot of bargaining is done while people are still angry. Once the anger dissipates, so does much of the bargaining.

Acceptance

  • Help people acknowledge that it is the end of an era, support them in their new roles and encourage them to take responsibility. Set goals with them of which they can take ownership.
  • Continue your role as a sounding board for complaints and questions. Ask ‘How do you feel about this?’ to understand individuals’ emotional state.
  • Begin to stress the benefits of the new situation and how it can work for the individual.
  • If new teams were formed, provide help with group dynamics. People are generally less concerned with the tasks they are given than how they fit into a new group.
  • Plan for some early successes for the change initiative and then communicate them loudly. Once people can see that it is working then they will be less skeptical and more positive about the change.
  • Make sure the necessary resources are available for them to succeed, be it equipment or training or just coaching and guidance.

Moving On

Empower individuals to take the ball and run with it. Let them find ways of using the new set up to create stretch goals and encourage them to push performance.

Let employees innovate and take risks within the new set-up. Let them not only see ways of making the new system work in their favor but put those into practice.

For the individuals who really are taking the ball and running with it, reward them and promote them. Use them to show others what is possible. Having a fellow colleague really driving performance forward using the changes is worth far more than managers telling people things are/will be better. Once people can see it working for a colleague they will be far more receptive to the change.

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Your turn:

What “stage” of change are you leading through right now? Add your comments here.

Are You Resilient?

Cast light every day…

Everything can be taken from a man or woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.  – Victor E. Frankl

re·sil·ience

noun \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\

  1. the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress
  2. an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

Throughout my adult life, for various reasons, I have been told that I am resilient. But my story isn’t relevant today. Oh, believe me, I’d like for you to know all the joys and challenges, triumphs and struggles I’ve experienced. But when I’m practicing resilience, sometimes that means casting aside wounds, wonders, worries and woes in order to allow the simplicity of a message to shine through. So in the spirit of simplicity, all I will say right now about my discovery of the power of resilience is that I believe it is important to cast light, every day.

Cast your light

By shining our inner light outward toward the world, we brighten all that we see. So if you are reading this, it is because you were willing to let this light be cast upon you for a moment.

Your turn…

How will you cast your light? Post a comment here to share how you will demonstrate your resilience today.

Take a chance

Leap and The Net Will Appear…

Two weeks ago I began taking my first formal art class. The self-portrait I’m showing here is my first completed piece. I am a little scared to share it here, but I’ve decided to do so in the spirit of taking chances. Is it a Rembrant? No. But it’s progress. And that’s all I’m after for now.

Take a Chance

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  What a lovely invitation to take purposeful risks in the hopes of making yourself…better. A better friend. A better partner. A better leader. A better person. By intentionally choosing to expose yourself to the possibility of reward in the face of failure, you are saying to the world, “I am worth the risk.”

Leap and the Net Will Appear

Although the saying, “Leap and the Net Will Appear” is sometimes attributed to an unknown Zen source, it is, in fact, a quote by American naturalist John Burroughs. This blog is an example of taking a leap. When I began writing three years ago, I only had a general idea of what I wanted to talk about, namely: leadership, learning and innovation. I almost didn’t start because I only had ideas – ideas, not even content – for a few posts. What I found was, as long as I tried to be consistent, over time the material for posts naturally began to take shape. I didn’t need to plan or figure it out. The net just appeared.

The concept of taking a chance does not encourage recklessness. But it does make the important point that you must eventually act, believing that the resources you need will show up when you need them. This is simply faith in its purest form.

Special thanks to Tom Hendrich for taking a risk and inspiring me with his courage.

Your turn

 What commitment have you been waiting to make? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
 

What’s your key to success?

Create change with a 3-word mantra…

Change gurus often borrow from Hindu tradition to tell us that in order to create change in our lives, we need a mantra. 

According to Wikipedia, a mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation.”

By adopting a mantra, we can focus our mind and heart toward a single, simple message of change. With all the busyness and business that crowd our world each day, having the focus of a targeted mantra can help us to filter out the “noise” and stay connected to a goal. A plan. A dream.

What’s your mantra?

Using just three words, describe the key to your next success.

Here are a few examples:

  • Try something new
  • Always be yourself
  • Do what’s right
  • Finish the book

Your turn:

Choose three words to adopt as your next goal for success, add those words below in a “comment,” then make a plan to execute on  your mantra.

It’s your thing

Place your own oxygen mask on first…

Here’s a simple question for you: “How much of your day do you spend doing what is best for you, as opposed to doing what other people want you to do or think you should do?” Put another way, “How closely do you follow your inner voice?”

If your answer is anything like, “Not enough,” then read on.

It’s amazing how conditioned we can become to living our lives according to the plans, ideas, expectations and unwritten rules of others. Many of these externally-established messages are well-intended, positive and helpful. But sometimes the script that others would have us follow in life isn’t exactly what’s best for us. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that as parents, leaders, coaches or caretakers we should abandon the needs of those for whom we are responsible. In these roles, we’re obliged to consider and focus on the well-being of others. But there simply must be room in each dayto tune in to our own needs. Our own voices.

We’ve all heard the familiar mantra of the airline flight attendants during their pre-flight instructions, “…make sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to help someone else put on theirs.”  If you’re traveling with a child or elderly person, you naturally may want to ensure their safety first, before helping yourself. But the idea is that if you ignore your own need for oxygen, you may be unable to help your loved one and, if that happens, you may put both yourself and your loved one in danger of serious injury or worse.  The moral of this message is, “If you don’t take care of yourself first, you’ll be unable to care for your loved ones in their time of need.”

Your turn

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So, what is one thing you could focus on for yourself that would build up your own “oxygen” and allow you to better attend to the needs of others?

Thanks to my classmate, Valarie Irons-Poppiti for inspring me with her Haters photo post.