Change is constant
According to the ancient greek philosopher Heraclitus, “The only constant in life is change.”
And to misquote Shakespeare, “Some are born to change, some achieve change and some have change thrust upon them.”
Change in light of Covid
For most of us the Covid pandemic has meant massive changes forced upon our lives. Businesses faced with uncertainty are having to adapt to new ways of working that may involve employees working from home or restricting face-to-face contact. On a personal level we have had to change our behaviour and adapt to new challenges such as social distancing and homeschooling while learning new technical skills in order to work and socialise online.
Whether change is a voluntary process or forced upon us, it is always uncomfortable.
Adapting to change.
Below we look at the various steps in the change process. It’s worth noting that depending on the significance of the change, we can go through all seven steps in minutes or in years. At each stage we consider the emotions felt and ways in which we can make each phase a little easier.
The 7 steps of change
Step 1 – A sense of loss
Something has changed, it’s different and it’s put you in a spin.
You can feel: loss, out of control, fear, shock, overwhelmed, unsafe and paralysed.
It’s important at this stage not to ignore these feelings and to find some sense of control. This can be done by addressing your concerns and trying to regain some perspective by considering the most likely and worst case scenarios.
For managers of change: You should listen, empathise, offer support and give as much information as possible. If the change is likely to have a negative impact on people, do not try and sell it as a positive.
Step 2 – Feeling doubtful
Doubt and uncertainty can create defensive behaviours and, even though you may be aware that change is necessary, you may resist the change and try to obstruct the process.
You can feel: resentment, angry and righteous.
Despite feeling that the old way is the best way, it is important that you gather the facts to form an accurate picture of reality.
For managers of change: Be patient, continue to offer support and offer any extra information to allow the person to reach their own conclusions
Step 3 – Frustration
You now know what’s going on but are unsure of how to deal with it.
You can feel: anxious, uncomfortable, confused and lethargic.
The danger here is that if you don’t come to grips with the new reality you could end up back at stage one. It is therefore important to stay motivated by planning and taking the best steps forward.
For managers of change: Allow the expression of difficult emotions while giving stability in areas that can be controlled.
Step 4 – Acceptance
Your perception changes.
You can feel: more resourceful, energised and positive
There is light at the end of the tunnel and you start to feel more in control.
For managers of change: You coach, encourage and support people to complete their unfinished tasks and create goals to allow people to focus on their immediate future.
Step 5 – Test the future
You consider your options, make decisions and try out new plans to see what does and does not work.
You can feel: excited, optimistic and pessimistic
You will experience a wave of positivity when plans go well and feelings of despondency when new ideas fail. The important thing is that you keep on experimenting to see which solutions deliver the most success.
For managers of change: Create clear achievable objectives and encourage risk taking without the fear of failure.
Step 6 – Understanding
You come to accept the reality that change can be forced upon us by a wide range of circumstances and that they have to be dealt with and endured.
You can feel: confident, competent and productive.
You accept that life is a messy process and even though you may never reconcile or fully accept the changes, you are able to apply and implement what has to be done.
For managers of change: Encourage learning, celebrate success and provide the opportunity to reflect.
Step 7 – Integration
Instead of feeling different, the change now feels normal.
You can feel: satisfied, focused, more generous and resilient.
By reflecting on the past and present you are aware of the consequences and rewards of the change. By experiencing change and proving that you can be flexible during a time of uncertainty can lead to a sense of personal accomplishment and great satisfaction.
Thanks to changecycle.com and Anchor Success