The Change Cycle

Have you ever wondered why we can predict how the brain will behave in any given situation? Why most of us behave in similar patterns? Why we can remember some things and not others?

Apart from science and research providing us with most of the answers, our brains have predictable cycles and patterns. Most cycles work in 5's;

Grief - Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Hate - Angry feelings, rage, tense body, adverse reaction, bitterness/resentment.

Sleep - Drowsiness, light sleep, deep sleep, delta, and REM.

Violence - Abuse, fear, blame, normalcy, then tension re-builds.

Communication - Trigger, internal reaction, mental reaction, verbal reaction, await response.

Sexual Response - Desire, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

I added that last one in to keep you interested in this post.....

So how does this help us? It is beneficial for those who manage change in the workplace. By identifying which stage people are at in the change reaction cycle, you can tailor the amount and frequency of information that you provide staff.

The change reaction cycle is comparable to the grief cycle;

  1. Denial - The head-in-the-sand, it's not going to happen phase. Provide lots of communication on why the need to change is required.
  2. Anger - This is the time to back off, you won't win the argument. Give those who are most angry something to do towards the change project. Listen to what they have to say and show plenty of empathy.
  3. Bargaining - You know you are here when the union becomes involved, when staff work slower as a sign of defiance. Talk about the benefits of change, how it will be easier for them once the change is introduced, how they can do more with less. The temptation is to play hard-ball, don't.
  4. Depression - Now is the time to meet one-on-one with your staff. Personalise your messages, get staff talking about how they feel and encourage them to ask questions. Take your time in this phase, it will reduce the overall period in the long-term.
  5. Acceptance - You will see a recognised change in behaviour as staff start to realise that the change was for a reason, that it is for the better, and that they were an integral part of it.

Keep the momentum going, make change the new normal if you want to reduce anxiety around change. More importantly, you will need to keep changing to stay in business.