Leading Change… Through the Valley of Despair

“You know you make me wanna shout”……!

Throw my hands up and shout “NO MORE CHANGE.” Has your organization become weary of change as a result of your efforts to grow and sustain your business in a difficult economy? Likely you are not alone as these are trying times for any company. Let me take a few minutes to introduce you to a tool that will enable you to manage your team through the many emotions of change.

Change Management - the emotions of change.

As depicted above there are eight emotions of change you and members of your team must help everyone in your organization through.

First: Shock and Surprise, “Why this, why now?” People typically resist any attempt at change out of fear of the unknown……a little bit louder now.

Second: Denial, “No way, this too will go away, you just watch.” If your organization has a history of poor follow through your team may feel they can ignore your efforts again……a little bit louder now.

Third: Anger, “OK I am getting really mad. I just got good at the old way of doing things”……a little bit louder now.

Fourth: Negotiation, “Hey I’m special. I’m going to cut a special deal for myself.” Some team members will likely attempt to just let everyone else go through this. “After all boss this doesn’t really apply to me anyhow.” ……a little bit louder now.

Fifth: Depression, the valley of despair, “I hate change.” This emotion can be very debilitating to your team as well as your initiative……a little bit louder now.

Sixth: Evaluation, “Other people are going along. At least, I should study this for myself.” Make sure you have taken time to communicate why change is important and what is in it for your team members……a little bit softer now.

Seventh: Trial, “What the heck, I might as well give it a try.” If you have done a good job telling them why the change is necessary they will at least give it a shot ……a little bit softer now.

And finally… Commitment: “Hey this isn’t so bad. I can get behind it.” Your job as a leadership team is to get your entire organization to commit to making this change a successful effort as soon as possible……a little bit softer now.

As leaders the sooner you take your team through these eight emotions and gain commitment, the better the chance you have of getting them on board. Every team member will likely move at a different speed through the curve and it will take individual attention and conversations with most team members. Sharing success stories of how well some team members have benefitted from change will help.

When, not if, someone gets stuck at denial, anger or negotiation you must address the issue quickly as it is imperative you move them on. If it is not possible to resolve their individual concern they, and you, may have to consider other alternatives. Failure by you or your team to address issues at this point, or giving in at the “Negotiate a deal for myself stage,” will undermine the importance of the change you are trying to implement as well as your own credibility.

Lastly take time to recognize your organization’s ability to adapt to change in these difficult economic times.

Don’t forget to say you will……yeah, yeah.

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