Expecting resistance to change and planning for it from the start of your change management progamme will allow you to effectively manage objections and increase the likelihood of successful change management.
The change curve model describes the four stages most employees go through as they adjust to change:
#1 – Denial
When a change is first introduced, people’s initial reaction may be shock or denial, as they react to the challenge to the status quo. This is stage 1 of the change curve.
For most employees in denial change is not easy to accept, and they react to change with a shock. In the first place most employees do not believe that the change is happening for real and try to ignore thinking and talking about it. Since change is interpreted as uncertainty, employees shift their attention to the past and familiar feelings that make them feel secure.
This shift causes a dip in the morale of the employees. At this stage it is for the leader to help the people to understand what is happening and how it affects them. Keeping them informed with what is happening helps in building up a sense of security.
#2 – Anger, confusion, depression, crisis
Resistance to change begins as people realize that the change is actually taking place and there is no way to avoid it. During this stage of the change curve feelings like anger, self-doubt, fear and anxiety can build up, which can significantly stagger the progress of the change process, besides causing the morale and productivity to take a nosedive.
The leader’s role, here, should be to lend an ear to the employees concerns, demystify the myths and fads surrounding the change, empathize with them and to encourage them to pass through this stage.
#3 – Acceptance
The next stage of the change curve is the acceptance phase where the employees leave out their arguments and instead become a part of it. This is where employees start acting and learning new ways so as to constructively contribute towards the change. A fresh wave of thinking sets in where employees understand the rationality of the change process and the importance of their role in the change process. What’s worth noting here is that even though employees may have started contributing towards the change they may still not have completely accepted the change at this stage.
#4 – New confidence
Stage 4, is the final stage of the change curve, when productivity and emotional normalcy would have been completely restored. It’s important for the leader to acknowledge and reward the employees for their active contributing, so as to keep them motivated and committed.
Not dealing proactively with resistance is one pitfall
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