Coping with change

Change is disconcerting because

  • People often don’t feel in control of it
  • It has often been painful in the past so people fear it and hence find it difficult to think about constructively
  • It is often imposed so the recipients experience themselves as powerless victims

The ways to help people cope are to

  • Educate them about the nature of change and their reactions to it
  • Empower people to create and influence change in their own lives and work
  • Help people express the painful emotion associated with change so they can think and act more productively
  • Help change managers appreciate the range of change strategies available and decide on the best one for their specific circumstances.

Some practical steps are

  • Run workshops for those affected by change. Draw on participant’s own experiences of and feelings about more and less successful change.
  • Use models such as ‘Shock, anger/denial, depression, adaptation, acceptance’ to provide understanding of what is happening.
  • Teach people ‘Influencing Skills’. See the article on this site.
  • Teach people to counsel each other so that painful emotion is dispersed and people can think and act more productively.
  • Run a strategy workshop for change managers. Have participants describe changes they have directed or experienced, the process they used and the outcomes in organisational and human terms. Identify patterns so participants discover general principles for successful change management.

If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick