Know where you are on the change curve

If you are in a period of significant transition, it is vital to know what point you have reached in it, says Miranda Kennett.

by Miranda Kennett
Last Updated: 24 Feb 2015

But few of us have applied it to our own lives, or realised that at any one time we may be going through multiple changes and be at different stages on each.

Whether your habitual attitude to change puts you in the camp of the enthusiasts, passengers or prisoners, you will ride the roller-coaster more successfully if you identify which phase you're in across the changes currently affecting your life.

The first news of a major change may prompt a rise in mood as your adrenaline kicks in. After that, your mood usually becomes more negative as you move into the denial phase, saying: 'It probably won't make any difference.' But, as time goes on, and the impact of the change becomes more apparent and impossible to ignore, anger and rebellion can kick in.

At the lowest level, there's confusion: 'I'm not in control' and 'Before I knew who I was, now I'm not so sure'. Sadness grows at the loss of previous security.

Though some people stay depressed, the good news is that most grow accustomed to the change and begin to explore the new reality, trying out ways of doing things and thinking about themselves. And, as they do so, their performance improves along with their sense of achievement.

Gradually, the new situation becomes integrated into daily life, goals become clearer, people move from self-absorption to being more able to collaborate with others, and satisfaction grows.

This curve is equally applicable to whole organisations embarking on transformation. Different groups of people will travel through the change curve at different speeds, and a few may get stuck in the denial and grieving phases. If they can't adapt, they may leave the organisation, which is why flexibility and resilience are increasingly valuable traits.

Try identifying the various change curves you are currently on at work and at home. If you find yourself mainly on the left-hand side of the curve, it's worth remembering that ultimately you will emerge with an improved mood and greater satisfaction once you have managed the transition successfully. How long it takes is up to you.

Miranda Kennett is an independent coach. If there's a leadership issue you'd like her to address, contact her at Follow her on Twitter @mirandajkennett

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