More than a new haircut

According to medical and mental health experts, people really do have the ability to change.


This article focus is:

  • The three types of changes individuals encounter on a regular basis;

  • How to use the model to your advantage to make personal change and

  • The four choices you have when placed in an untenable situation.

Three types of changes:

1. A change of process -e.g. 2 stage authentications on phone apps, covid-19 restrictions

2. A change of mind – e.g. different location, different relationship, different career

3. A change of circumstances – e.g. home ownership, adopt a puppy, promotion to leader, reduced salary, reduced headcount, isolation from peers, marriage, loss of family member.


A popular framework used by psychologists to explain how humans experience change is the Kubler-Ross 5 stages of grief.

E.g. Facebook announces they are going to make location marking on images mandatory...we could experience the following:


Stage 1: Denial. “They won’t do that, it’s fake news.”

Stage 2: Anger. “How dare they, that’s an invasion of privacy.”

Stage 3: Bargaining. “Check the fine print for opt out/out in options.”

Stage 4. Depression. “I’m over Facebook, I hate it.”

Stage 5. Acceptance. “I’ve opted out so I’m OK with it all really.”


The feelings experienced in each of the Kubler-Ross stages may be fleeting or drawn out…there is no hard and fast rule here – just an acknowledgment that they do exist. The Kubler-Ross model has traditionally been associated with unplanned changes.


Ralph Lewis and Chris Parker, in their article ‘Beyond the Peter Principle – managing successful transitions’ (1981) describe a 7-stage evolutionary process that can help explain what happens to us during planned or unplanned changes, negative or positive changes.


Using the example of the feelings experienced when a person gets promoted into a leadership role above their peers, Lewis and Parkers’ research concluded the following 7 stages:


1. Immobilisation – pleased yet shocked that they got the job. A sense of overwhelm.

2. Denial of change – minimising or trivialising the size of the change or the effort put in to obtain the change

3. Incompetence – flat performance, frustration, difficulty in coping

4. Acceptance of reality – letting go of the past (skills) and accepting the situation

5. Testing – trying new approaches, mostly new ways of communicating, reshaping self-image

6. Search from meaning, internalisation – a reflective period with an attempt to understand all that has happened. Accepting your new self-image

7. Integration – incorporating new meanings into new and enhance behaviours. Consolidating your new self-image.


Individuals can move more easily through a change if they are:

1. Self-aware – which phase of the change process am I in

2. Accepting of the change and the change process.


Employing a coach is beneficial as they can help you reflect, acknowledge, accept, innovate, practise and mould successful behaviours and ways of thinking.

What happens if I find myself in an untenable situation…how do I make the change?


Four options model (with examples of someone who isn’t satisfied with the role they find themselves in following after an organisational restructure).


1. Leave the organisation.

2. Change the situation. Take on extra responsibilities (of interest to you).

3. Put up with the situation. Stay in the job and continue to feel dissatisfied.

4. Change yourself or how you feel about the temporary situation. Acknowledge this is a temporary role and you will do as good a job as you can whilst looking for the next step in your career -this may help dispel feelings of dissatisfaction.


NB. Changing yourself is different from merely putting up with the situation since your thoughts, feelings and behaviour are different in the two cases.

References:

Bridges, W. (1991). Managing transitions: making the most of change. Reading, Mass, Addison-Wesley

Hyde, Peter. (2014). Personal transitions. Available: http://peterhyde.co.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2013/09/Personal-transitions.pdf. Last accessed February 2016.

Kubler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying. New York: Macmillan.

Parker, Chris Lewis, Ralph. (1981). Beyond the Peter Principle, Managing Successful Transitions. Available: http://www.ralphlewis.co.uk/Change_files/Beyond%20the%20Peter%20Principle.pdf. Last accessed August 2020.

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