Magic in the Room #28: Responding to Change

Change is inevitable, and lately, it seems turbulent change has been the norm. As big and often unsettling changes have been thrust upon us as individuals, and on the organizations we lead, becoming aware of the stages of change, which take on a similar form to how we process grief and loss, is helpful.

In this episode, Luke, Chris, and Hannah walk through the Kubler-Ross Change Curve (also known as the 5 Stages of Grief) and explain what happens at each stage in the process of dealing with the emotional effects of change.

The hosts explore the cycles and the emotions that we experience and when responding to change. The team discusses the ‘change curve,’ which was derived from the work of Kubler-Ross. The model describes the internal emotional journey that we all embark on as individuals when dealing with change and transition.

Luke explains that when we are faced with disruption, we often begin with, how am I going to fix this? How am I going to take ownership? But eventually, whenever that becomes unsustainable, our energy level drops off. The model shows how we go through these stages and emotions as our intrinsic energy moves downward.

Hannah and Chris liken change to a grieving process that happens when we accept and acknowledge that our normal will never be the same again. We find ourselves trapped in an in-between stage where things aren’t what they used to be and unable to find a way forward. Without being armed with the knowledge of the grieving process, we often find ourselves caught in this process.

 

When we’re in denial and disbelief, we find ourselves struggling to comprehend what happened. It’s also natural to refuse to acknowledge your new reality and do everything you can to operate as usual. Many find themselves trying to pull the pieces together to create a sense of normalcy without knowing what will come next.

 

The COVID experience is a perfect example of how we collectively deal with an unprecedented level of change. In the beginning, we embarked on a journey through the Kübler-Ross Change Curve. It began with shock and denial before moving forward into frustration or even depression. But now we are experimenting with innovative methods and learning how to work in a post-pandemic world.

However, recognizing this narrative can help leaders make this cycle shorter for their team. Can we avoid as a leader experiencing it ourselves when there’s disruption? No. But if we’re aware and know these stages and increase awareness around this cycle, we can all move through these changes much faster.

 

When we know what to expect next, we also know how to get out of it and move faster to the next stage. But on a grander scale, we can also lead our teams, and our organizations respond to change is a much more positive way.

 

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