The Stages and Actions
1. Shock – “It can’t possibly be true.” Staff feel overwhelmed and helpless. They can freeze or panic. They may slow down and lose the ability to see beyond the immediate future.
Action – allow subjects to voice their concerns. Offer understanding and reassurance. They need to know that they are still valued and part of the company. Highlight opportunities and the benefits of the change.
2. Denial – “It won’t affect me.” This is a symptom of evasion. “Things aren’t really that different.” This is avoidance of the issue. Some staff will convince themselves that work is the same really. Many will stick to the old rulebook.
Action – old actions are prevalent. Individuals need to be given the time to explore, make mistakes and learn to make fewer mistakes as they gather experience. Listen and offer appropriate advice.
3. Incompetence – “I can’t do it”, or, ”It’s not what I want” – expressions of vagueness, depression, frustration and anger. Staff are expressing their less comfortable feelings. The “old way” is not working. They are coming to a critical point in the cycle and begin to realize that they are going to have to change their own behaviour in order to survive.
Action – deal with the anger, depression, temper tantrums and the closing of ranks. Accept the drama and the blow-ups as part of the change process. Keep them focused on the day-to-day work.
4. Acceptance – “I accept that I’ve lost everything” – Letting go. The old values, attitudes and behaviours will have to go. Staff express their fear of starting the change process. BLAME.
Action – keep repeating the facts and help individuals to feel valued.
5. Developing (Testing) – “I’ll give it a try if I can understand why.” It is only after the change is in place that the testing and developing normally happens. Mistakes are made as issues are not identified correctly in the new set up and competence has yet to be fully developed.
Action – training and coaching come in here. Promoting the development and practice of new skills are essential. Encourage broader thinking and tolerate the short term drop in quality and confidence.
6. Application – “I can do it if it’s what I want” – Elation. Beginning of staff understanding of their own emotions. They may choose to take a more sophisticated look at how they can act in the new set up now.
Reflection – “Am I happy acting this way? (the new).”
Action – Keep identifying and communicating clear objectives. Align the outcomes of the company and the individuals as everyone moves towards the vision and the other side of change.
7. Integration / Completion – “I’ve changed and I can do it.” The staff have established new behaviours at the unconsciously competent level. The new ways have become the norm. Here the people who do not fit in stand out and may leave the company.
Action – Help individuals by continually reviewing progress against initial concerns and acknowledging individual efforts. A positive coaching approach is appropriate at this stage. Encourage ownership of new behaviours, listen for suggestions regarding further improvement. Now is the opportunity to establish continuous improvement as a habit.