Managing Change

During this time, everyone one of us has had to deal with change, particularly to our freedoms and routine. This has made me think about change and how stressful it can be.

The Change Curve

Copyright Moss Warner

Many of you will be familiar with the above curve. This was originally developed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross for the stages of grief but this has been applied to change management in organisations. I believe that this can also be applied to other forms of change in our personal life, the curve, though shown as linear, in reality, is not as simple. As you will read below, you will go through all stages, but not necessarily in a linear fashion – it can be a bit of a rollercoaster.

  • Shock – this stage requires no explanation, the shock of the spread of the virus and how many people’s lives have been taken away by it can leave one in a constant state of shock. For your mental health, it is important to control the amount of news you read. I understand the need to stay informed – how about trying to just read an update just in the morning. The rest of the day should be dedicated to your work, recovery and mental health.
  • Denial – The seriousness of the situation was questioned at the beginning of the pandemic. Is it really a pandemic – are we scaremongering? Do we really need all these measures in place? Surely this is a bit over the top? I am sure I can visit my family even though we have been told not to. Certainly, this has been observed in governments where they did not put measures in place as soon as they should have because let’s face it – they were in a state of denial.
  • Acceptance –  As I write this, four weeks into lockdown in the UK, I have accepted the situation. I think for many of us in the UK, we have reached this stage. This has been reflected in lower use of public transport and fewer cars on the road. We have to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. We realise that we all have a part to play.
  • Depression – This is when emotions are at is at its lowest, I have flitted between depression and experimental over the past few weeks. Thinking that I have got a routine down then on some days, everything feels futile. Low energy, not willing to wake up and do anything; binge-watching Netflix and craving unhealthy foods. (I could do with a KFC bucket right now – oh right – they are closed…NOOOOOO.)
  • Experimental – This is the stage where you start engaging with the situation. Finding that routine that works for you, having a good set up at home for your home office. Making time in the diary to have lunch away from the computer screen. Protecting your time for your mental wellbeing, whether it is to read, relax or work a project you have been putting off. You are finding your rhythm. Check out my other blog post for ideas on how to survive the COVID-19 lockdown.
  • Decision – This stage is similar to experimental, you are finding ways to improve your mood and mental wellness. At this stage, you have found a good routine. This is the perfect time to share your knowledge with your friends and family on how to help them to accept the situation and adapt to this new norm. This is also my way to share what I have experienced with you all. To all the readers who are earlier down the curve, it will get better – keep working on yourself and find your new rhythm.
  • Engagement/Integration – This is the final stage, the changes have been integrated and it is “onward and upward”. I think this is the big question, the world will not and should not be the same after COVID-19. I am hopeful in how the world will change for the greater good.

If you are interested to learn more, here are a few more links on the Change Curve:

Implementing Change

John P Kotter is a name you will hear often on the topic of understanding and managing change. He developed an eight-stage change model and written books – ‘Leading Change’ (1995) and the follow-up ‘The Heart Of Change’ (2002).

  1. Create Urgency – the idea is to develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. For COVID-19 we had the virus to do this for us. However, to try and implement a change, you need to spark motivation. Communication is also key, whether it is working with your partner, family and friends, to be aligned. For my family, it is agreeing not to visiting vulnerable family members, unless it is to drop off groceries and even then, only at the door.
  2. Building a guiding team – get the right people in place with the right emotional commitment, and the right mix of skills and levels. This is not applicable when we are working on ourselves, however, why not find someone to be your accountability coach to keep you on the right track?
  3. Create a vision for change – When you first create change, everyone will have an opinion or idea. It is important to create an overall vision and strategy. Everyone needs to understand why they are doing something and their role in the change process. It is to help embed the change and make it clear, in your mind, what the end goal is.
  4. Communicate the vision – Talk about the vision and address peoples’ concerns and anxieties, openly and honestly. This ties very closely with Stage 1 of the process, people need to understand the change and it is communicated. This is also to hold you accountable for the end goal.
  5. Empower Actions – remove obstacles and enable constructive feedback. Again, communication is key. Are you as productive as you want to be? Is there are a better way to reach goal/change you want to implement?
  6. Create short term wins – set achievable aims, this will help you keep momentum and motivation. I always feel better when I have crossed off something on my to -do list. What is your Most Important Task (M.I.T) of the day?
  7. Build on the change – real change runs deep. Quick wins are only the beginning of what needs to be done to achieve long-term change. This is the decision – experimental part of the change curve. You want to continuously build on those new habits and positive changes.
  8. Anchor the changes – Last, but not least, make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your life – make it your new norm.

For more information, here are some handy links:

May the change be with you!

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