People are used to their routines. They may be proud of their expertise, and fear being undermined if things change. Or, worse, they may feel their job is at risk. And a major change can be genuinely traumatic for some.
So how can you help your team members accept, and even embrace, change? People tend to go through a series of reactions to change that are similar to the stages of dealing with grief. You can’t stop them doing this entirely, but you can make their journey through the stages easier, and therefore establish your change more quickly.
The Change Curve describes these stages. It’s partly based on the work of psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
Team members may be in shock about the proposed change. They might even convince themselves that there won’t really be any change. They’ll need your help to understand what is happening, so effective communication is crucial. Be clear about where people can go for information and help. Answer questions as they crop up so that people feel secure.
The “danger zone” where feelings of anger, fear and resentment may lead some people to resist the change, both actively and passively. Make sure you’re prepared for this stage, so you can make it as painless and short-lived as possible. But beware: you can’t anticipate exactly how each person will react, so watch, listen and support as necessary.
The turning point, for individuals and for the organization. Your people are starting to accept what’s happening. They’ll still need to test out what’s going on, so give them time to do so.
Team members start to commit to the new way of doing things. Success is now in sight. The changes are starting to become second nature for everyone. And they can see the benefits to the team and to the organization.
Now’s the time to celebrate with them. This is important! People will find it much easier to cope with change next time if they can remember this sense of satisfaction and reward.