Reports coming out of government and financial gurus suggest we are "on the up". Does that mean that we can sit back and watch the money roll in or does that mean we can now make that investment in plant, products, processes or people and grow the business? Is our own geographical environment changing? Do we need to diversify to survive or diversify to grow? Do we simply need to do something different?

Whichever situation you are in it may require some changes to what you, your employees or even your customers do.

I thought it may be useful to explore what happens when things change in our world and how those changes might affects us.

A lot of the theory is based around some work carried out by a lady called Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. My personal experience of this subject is that people most readily associate with this model and when explained you see an "Aha! " moment which puts their own experience into perspective.

I'll let you decide whether you believe it or not.

To the model:

The stages, popularly known by the acronym DABDA, include:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

This can also be shown in the following way and associated with the feelings and anxiety people go through prior to reaching the acceptance and "getting on with it" phases.

It also has to be recognised that there is no specific time limit for these feelings and reactions. People will deal with it in very different ways. Some may get stuck in the denial phase whilst others will be straight up for the challenge of doing something different and pass through the stages quickly even sub-consciously. I've come across both types and it can be a testing time to try and help someone through the process.

So what is the point of all this?

Well, forewarned is forearmed as they say and once you are aware of the potential effect on you or your employees you can begin to see where you need to put strategies in place to help those who get stuck or tap into the energy of those who relish the challenge. In such times of change I would really implore you not to adopt the Nike logo style of management though and tell your people to JDI (Just do it!).

Engage with people. Show empathy (not sympathy) - if they have lost something as a result of the change allow them some time to overcome the shock. Then communicate vision, values and intent. Enlist their help, understanding and support to make it doable for all.

A closing thought.

I found the following which puts it all into perspective - in the episode "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" of The Simpsons Doctor Hibbert explains the five stages to Homer after he eats a poisonous fish.

Dr. H: Now, a little death anxiety is normal. You can expect to go through five stages. The first is denial.
Homer: No way! Because I'm not dying! [hugs Marge]
Dr. H: The second is anger.
Homer: Why you little! [steps towards Dr. H]
Dr. H: After that comes fear.
Homer: What's after fear? What's after fear? [cringes]
Dr. H: Bargaining.
Homer: Doc, you gotta get me out of this! I'll make it worth your while!
Dr. H: Finally, acceptance.
Homer: Well, we all gotta go sometime.
Dr. H: Mr. Simpson, your progress astounds me.

So there we have it. Change happens! You CAN deal with it.

Article by John Ainsley of Compass Professional Development.

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