No matter what the change is or when it occurs, people respond to it gradually. The four steps that people go through when dealing with change are:
If you find yourself going through these four stages, you are no less receptive to change than the average person. But being aware of where you are in the process can help you adapt more easily as well as help other people adapt.
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The four reactions to change that everyone goes through are:
Denial. At the first signs of a coming change, many people refuse to acknowledge it. They don’t believe change is necessary or that the proposed change will work. Do you experience this sense of denial when a change is proposed?
Resistance. It is one thing to deny the need for a change, it is another to resist the change once it has been publicized and is under way. Are you among those who refuse to accept a change? That, too, is a sign of difficulty in dealing with change. When change is imminent, you need to be ready to support its implementation. As a manager, you also need to help your employees to accept the change—both the good and the bad points.
Exploration. The third stage people go through involves a rational examination of the pros and cons of the change. Do you examine the implications of a change, or do you refuse to even listen to others about the advantages and disadvantages of the change?
Acceptance. When change works, people realize it and accept the change. In time, it becomes the new status quo. How about you? If you find yourself dragging your feet when change has occurred, venting about it months after the fact, then you may have a serious problem.
By knowing that these reactions are normal and figuring out where you are in the process you can adjust your behavior to adapt better to change. You can also figure out where your employees are in the process to help them adjust to the change effort.
To further analyze your attitude toward change, here are some statements. Do they reflect your actions?
- "I like to look for more efficient or effective ways of getting the work done."
- "I have an open mind to new ideas and possibilities."
- "I am known for anticipating and leading change within my department."
- "I seize opportunities to reward, celebrate, and encourage successful change."
- "I like to work closely with people who are eager to improve the organization’s policies and procedures and other shortcomings."
The more of these statements that reflect your behavior, the more a change enabler you are.