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Common reactions to change

 

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Change has become a constant in the corporate and business world. Many factors that influence change such as globalisation, technological advancement, re-engineering and downsizing are in one form or another here to stay. When people are impacted upon by change that influences their own team the process they go through psychologically can actually mirror that of personal grief.

There are 6 major stages that can easily be identified in a response to change. People will progress through them at different rates and the introduction of new change initiatives atop existing ones can actually force people to go up and down these stages or to regress.

Stage 1 - Shock

In a similar style to a grief reaction people may take some time to address the reality of what has just occurred. People can't really do much at this stage but come to grips with what the new situation entails.

Stage 2 - Denial

A common reaction may be to deny the impact of the change. "It doesn't relate to me, and it doesn't affect my department". A ritualised form of 'farewell" to the old ways akin to a funeral sometimes helps.

Stage 3 - Anger

It is important to openly deal with what angers people. "Why did we need to change at all when the way we were doing things was fine?" Some may actively resist or attack the change. Anger de-skills and can engender a mood of self-preservation. This may promote risk avoidance and hold back innovation.

Stage 4 - Passive Acceptance

The commencement of accepting that the way things are done has indeed changed and that the old ways are in fact gone. "I suppose if we have to deal with this, we might as well get on with it"

Stage 5 - Exploration

A willingness to look at actual methods for implementing and taking the change process forward. "How do we actually go forward from here?"

Stage 6 - Challenge

Actually going forward. Ensuring that the change process is the catalyst for continuous improvement and not just there as an obstacle. What stage is the team in now, and how do we move forward?

By Talan Miller