Change in the workplace or at home can come unexpectedly, and when it does, there is disruption and a struggle to adapt to the new changes. The process of accepting change is often accompanied by a variety of emotions. The change curve can be seen in terms of emotional phases with each person experiencing different intensity and extent of each phase.
1. Shock and denial
These are the initial emotions when one is confronted with unwelcome change. Somehow you will keep thinking that the change will go away or get rectified. There is also a sense of disbelief that it is taking place and refusal to accept that the change has taken place. You try to build up defenses against the disruptions brought about by change and when it starts to sink in, there is a feeling of being overwhelmed.
You keep thinking, ‘I am not up to this’ or ‘this will not work’ or ‘I want no part of this.’ You are angry that you are in the present situation. You are angry and blame others for having caused the change and you feel depressed that there is nothing you can do about the situation.
At this point, you realize that the changes are there to stay and gradually accept things for what they are. You start letting go of the negative feelings and begin thinking maybe it could just work. There is a willingness to try and experiment. You will find that optimism and energy levels start trickling back. The attitude shifts to ‘I could give it a try, maybe it will work’
4. Discovery/ Satisfaction
You begin to see that the changes work and are willing to work with them. Your experimentation goes a notch higher as you get different degrees of success. The attitude will change to, ‘This works, I am enjoying working with it’
This is the final point in the curve as you become fully aligned with the changes. You are willing to actively support the changes as you have seen they can work. You begin to appreciate the full extent of the changes and how they have impacted your life in and out of work.
At integration your mind is fully locked into collaborating with others working with the changed environment. You appreciate those who have made the changes work as you have. You are even willing to work with those having difficulty adapting to the change. Your attitude at this point is, ‘I have seen this successfully work’
How have you handled the emotions that swirl around disruptive change at work? How have you handled your employee’s emotional responses?