Dealing with change is quicker and faster for some people or organizations than others. In these turbulent times, some companies flounder while others embrace the fast speed of change and flourish. As the old saying goes, “The only thing that is constant is change”. So once managers and individuals understand how change affects them and their organizations, they can be better prepared to make the required adaptations. This will make things go much smoother when trying to make the required adaptions to a new situation, whether it be in personal life or at work and whether it be an individual or an organization.
There are certain stages and dynamics that occur in most any type of change. These stages do not necessarily occur in the same order every time. Sometimes a stage may be skipped or may occur so quickly that it is not even noticed. Some stages may be very intensive in certain circumstances. Some stages may take a long time to get through. But it is important not to get stuck in a stage for too long. As mentioned in last week’s article, here are some of the stages of change:
Flood of Emotions
Shock and Denial
Feeling of Loss
Acceptance (Intellectual and Emotional)
Here is a typical change that could occur in an aviation company:
The line service supervisor who has been managing the line service team for 18 years is retiring. There are several line service team members who have seniority, but Henry, a 28-year old hard-working and technically knowledgeable team member gets promoted to the new supervisor position. This change can be looked at from different perspectives, but we will look at it from the perspective of the William, the senior team member on the line service team who actually mentored and trained Henry when he first started with the company eight years ago.
How might William deal with this change? If we go through the stages in the order shown above (although this order could vary with each person and with every instance of change), William may start with a (1) Flood of Emotions. He could be angry that he was not the person promoted. He could be sad that his old friend is retiring and leaving the team (this could also be considered the stage of Feeling of Loss). He could be excited that a new person is taking charge of the team. He could be happy that his old friend is finally getting to start his retirement. He could be embarrassed that he has to go home and tell his wife that a ‘young guy’ was promoted above him when he thought he was next in line.
Next, William might find himself in the Shock & Denial stage. He just cannot believe that management promoted this guy, Henry over him. He may act out this stage by denying that Henry has any authority over him and refusing to follow instructions that his new supervisor gives him.
The Bargaining stage is when the person going through change bargains with themselves about how they are going to proceed or accept this change. For instance, William may say to himself, “okay, I will keep doing my job here on the line. But the minute Henry tries to boss me around, I am out of here!” Or, “I will try to deal with this my own way”.
The Feeling of Loss, like some of the other stages, can occur simultaneously while other stages are occurring. William may feel that sense of loss long after the change has occurred. Sometimes, even after a person has gone through the Acceptance stage, they may continue to feel the sense of loss.
The Acceptance stage is two parts: Intellectual and Emotional. Sometimes our heads can be telling us something that we need to change, but our emotions do not follow. In William’s case, he may accept intellectually the fact that Henry is now his supervisor. But his actions or attitude may show that he has not emotionally accepted the change.