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Change Doesn't Have to Be a Dirty Word

The fact that everybody knows there needs to be change somehow doesn't make it any easier to accept. Sometimes it's not about the logic its the emotion that influences us. As a manger you have probably found yourself explaining all the reasons that change is needed to employees who have simply looked at you and said - no, there must be another way.

Dealing with emotions, I believe, is one of the reasons leaders see change as a dirty word. Why? Because it can be hard to deal with. Many different emotions and people go through them at different stages. It would be easier if everyone was angry at the same time or all in denial etc., wouldn't it? Maybe. Maybe not.

What makes matters worse is that the more change there is, the more employees see that the last change was unsuccessful (compared to effort and impact) and the more constant it is, the more emotion there is likely to be.


When this happens leaders either just brace themselves and push through the change as quickly as possible accepting people wont be happy and believing it's in their best interest. Or they could learn from what worked and didn't before and build that into their plan for the next change.

Dealing with emotions can be draining and time-consuming. Being prepared to deal with it can soften the impact and move people through to acceptance much faster. It is a necessary part of successful change.

So what can you do? First of all accept that there will be emotion and people will be in different parts of the cycle (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance - Kubler-Ross Model). In fact some people might get stuck in one part of the cycle permanently.

Understandably you as the leader or business owner need people to keep moving forward and at the very least keep delivering current commitments. At the same time though you need to demonstrate empathy for what they are going through.

Continue to communicate, make sure you have feedback mechanisms in place, if necessary have counseling services available for employees to use.

Have contingency plans in place for the worse case scenarios. What happens if employees in critical roles leave? How will you handle potential threats to security and safety of employees? What will you do with an employee(s) who is actively resisting the change and inciting or disrupting other employees? How you handle these and other situations will influence how everyone else feels, for better or worse.

Change doesn't have to be a dirty word!


Article Source: Therese Wales


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