Change is inevitable and is currently happening at a pace that some people haven’t previously experienced. Change within peoples working and personal life if likely to continue into the coming few months.

To make change successful, we first need to plan the factors of the change such as why, how and when.  And before implementation we need to consider the personal impact of the change and to appreciate the rollercoaster of reactions people will experience.  Approaching change from a psychological point of view, helps us focus on the people element to create buy in. The change will be more successful if it has been well thought out and the people who will be affected have been brought along.

Understanding change

The Kubler-Ross change curve model is widely used to show the various stages people encounter.  Using a tool like this helps us understand what to expect and how to manage each stage. According to the model the stages a person experiencing in a change situation include:

  • Denial – The first stage is one of shock or denial and is usually short-lived. During this time, a person may put up a temporary defence mechanism whilst they take time for the news of the change to set in. It may bring a dip of productivity and the ability to think and act.
  • Anger – When the realisation of the change sets in a person may experience a period of anger. A person at this stage may feel short tempered, irritable and frustrated.
  • Bargaining – When the stage of anger passes away, a person may start thinking about ways to postpone the inevitable and try to find out the best thing left in the situation.
  • Depression – This is a stage in which the person tends to feel sadness, fear, regret, guilt and other negative emotions. Some people may have completely given up by now and feel like they have reached a dead end. Someone in this stage may display signs or indifference, reclusiveness, pushing others away and zero excitement towards anything in life.
  • Acceptance – When people realise that fighting the change that is coming into their life is not going to go away, they adapt to the new situation and accept it completely.

Business leaders who understand these stages can anticipate the patterns of behaviour and mitigate any potential fall-out.  Some clients share the model with their people to help them understand their own responses too.


Communication is a huge part of managing change, naturally you will think about what to say and when.  Adding how you position your communication to address how people will be feeling, depending on where they are on the curve, will have a better impact on the people receiving the messages.

A successful change is well planned in advance, implemented smoothly and is truly embedded as the new way of working.

By addressing the impact on people as a key part of your change management plan, they will make the change a success.

For help in managing change in your business do not hesitate to contact me on

Claire Carson

Human Resources for SMEs