Why Is The Change Curve Important?
This year we’ve all been forced to face up to huge, sudden, and perhaps overwhelming change in our personal and working lives.
As a business owner, this change may have been the most difficult you have experienced. You may have had to rethink your entire business as well as find the physical and mental strength to keep going or perhaps even start all over again.
Whether you’re still stuck in a state of shock or starting to feel optimistic again about the future, understanding what you’re feeling and why you’re doing the things you’re doing in your current circumstances will help you move through the stages, adapt to the new environment, and start thriving again.
The Kubler-Ross change curve shows us how we usually move through the initial shock and negativity of change towards more positive emotions and actions.
Where are you on the change curve?
Looking at the change curve diagram, you may immediately recognise where you are. Here we give a brief overview of each stage and some tips for moving forward along the curve.
This is an initial period of overwhelm and inaction. If you’re still in a state of shock, you need to give yourself time and space to adjust. It might help to limit the amount of news you’re consuming each day so you can start processing what’s happening and move along the curve. If you stay here, your business will not be able to weather the storms.
If you’ve convinced yourself that everything will be fine and that you just need to keep doing what you were doing before until it all ‘blows over’, you are in the denial stage. In order to move out of this stage, it’s helpful to challenge your own assumptions. Talk to others, especially other business owners, about what they’re thinking, feeling, and doing in order to gain clarity about your own situation.
Anger, Frustration, Blame
If you’re in this stage, you recognise that things are different and perhaps won’t ever be the same again. This can produce strong feelings of frustration or anger and a feeling that ‘it’s just not fair’. While it’s good to pass through this stage, as it can be an important catalyst for the next steps, be careful not to stay here too long. Look at the options you have in front of you in terms of your business and look to friends, family and/or a professional business mentor or coach for guidance.
If you stay too long in the previous stage, it will affect your mood and energy levels and you may lose your motivation and slip into depression. Developing your mental toughness and resilience is essential. Again, don’t try to get through this alone. Tap into your support network and get some practical advice on how to move forward.
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At this stage you are starting to feel more positive that things might work out. You’re thinking about how you might adapt to the changed environment. It’s good to be completely open-minded as you brainstorm options and start developing new capabilities to help you through the change.
As your capability grows so will your confidence and in this stage you’re feeling empowered again. You’ve accepted the change and realised that you can make this work. You’ve had some good ideas and are starting to take back control. You may even be feeling excited about the new opportunities and possibilities.
Well done. You’ve come out the other side. You’ve adapted yourself and your business to the ‘new normal’, your morale is high, and you’re starting to thrive again. The future is looking bright.
Remember, it’s usually not a linear journey along the change curve. You may spend longer in one stage than in others or skip a stage altogether. You may feel you’re moving forward, and then something new happens and throws you back into shock, anger or despair. If this happens, remember that, “This too shall pass” and you do have the ability to get back on top again.
Be aware of how others around you are feeling. If you are now feeling strong and determined – recognise that others may not feel the same way and use this knowledge to be empathetic and supportive.
Move Along The Change Curve
Here is a little 3-step exercise you can do today to help you move to the next stage along the change curve and towards the full recovery of your business:
- Determine where you are on the change curve in this moment
- Make notes about how you’re feeling and behaving
- Take one positive action such as the ones mentioned above to improve your situation & help you move along the curve
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise Francis is our content researcher, writer and a facilitator at Growing Organisations.
For more information about personal and professional development or to discuss your business goals, contact the Growing Organisations office.