Deal With It! Change Can Be Tough – Part II

Change may be hard and can represent grief. Grief caused from the way activities we liked or our values before a change are now no longer able to be adhered to or enjoyed on a daily basis. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, the famous Swiss psychiatrist, professor at University of Chicago, and author of Death and Dying (1969), is credited with the 5 stages of grief, both associated with death, and grief management in general.

Below is a simple acronym called S.A.R.A.H. to help us understand each stage of grief and they relate directly to how we transition ourselves through changes like grief.

What does S.A.R.A.H. at home and work sound like?

S – Shock. I can’t believe this is happening! Why now and why me? What is going on? This is crazy! This does not make any sense! I am being totally blindsided. How stupid can I be! What are they thinking! How dumb is this?!

A – Anger. I’ve had it! This is totally unfair! They never told me this or I was told something totally different was going to happen. I have been lied to! This is criminal. I am writing a letter; I am getting an attorney; I am fed up!

R – Resistance. How is work going to actually get done? Who else is going to be involved? What do they really know about our area? This won’t work. How do they expect to get those results with this deployment of people and allocation of dollars? – it seems nuts.

A – Acceptance. Ok, and can we sometimes do it this way? Do we always have to have strict approval, or could we minimize sign-offs with these activities? Could I see the broader plan? Can I also work with them, to learn the new techniques? Would they be open to trying it this way, if it saves time and money?

H – Hope/Healing and helping others. I have been there and I know it seems crazy. I had my doubts, but it actually saved us a lot of money. The new procedure is saving me a ton of time. Some of that stuff just wasn’t that important. I thought my new boss was going to be a jerk, and as it turns out, she really knows what she’s doing.

We will all go through these stages as change hits us. It may takes us only 10 minutes or it may take 10 years. We may get stuck in a single stage for many years. The faster we are able to move toward a positive transition through all these stages, the sooner we can help others as they transition with change, and that effort itself benefits our ability to cope with change.

Often the biggest challenge for team leaders is change impacting teams, such as when the team as a whole is impacted by organizational change. One of the simpler and clearest models of team dynamics through change is an oldie and a goodie. Bruce Tuckman, in 1965, put forward this model now referred to as, the Tuckman Model. He proposed the form-storm-norm-perform model of team development, and this model can be effectively applied during times of change. Jamie Ramsden of AIIR Consulting has done a superb job of summarizing Tuckman’s work, as edited below:

Form – Team members are more independent initially, and can function well to meet individual goals inside a team structure. Team members may be motivated to work together but may not all be in agreement on team goals.

Storm – As issues arise and actions are questioned with some members being quiet and others vocal, disagreements and conflicts are natural outgrowths of individual goals varying or team goals being unclear, and these conflicts must be addressed for the team to move forward.  Some teams may stall in the storm phase, and others will gain perspective, tolerance, and versatility, helping the team become more viable.

Norm – As conflicts are resolved, confidence builds in the team’s sense of trust. Team members adjust their individual behavior to meet the team goals, and are less focused on personal or self-centered goals. Ambitions and initiatives are put forward in order to achieve team goals. The team gains strength, and doesn’t have to deal with petty or minor concerns. Focus on the goal increases. As a side-note, members may be so focused on achieving a team goal, that they shy away from conflict. Critical challenges to ideas may not even be put forward.

Perform – With greater focus and unity, the team may begin to achieve in ways not previously considered. Competence increases, along with confidence in achieving goals. Decision are made without much supervision and autonomy increases. Conflicts and dissent are encouraged for learning, not punitive purposes, with rules for engagement and resolution.

Change can be another word for Adventure or Growth!


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