The first step to managing change is to understand the physiological reactions to news of change. This is true for bad news, whatever the context. Illness, redundancy, proposal rejection. Research has shown that people go through various stages of emotional response. Understanding this pattern will provide the knowledge to help build the support and coping mechanisms needed to successfully manage the change. The emotional journey is called SARAH. This acronym stands for :-
Shock, Anger, Rejection, Acceptance, Hope
Everyone goes through these stages although the speed and/or depth varies. Very often people will also move back along the stages numerous times as they process what it means for them. Shock, anger and rejection of the news i.e. denial, spring from a feeling of powerlessness and a loss of control. Acceptance and hope come from the eventual realisation that they have some choice. Change may be inevitable, how you react and deal with it is within your control. So, what can be done to support and help manage the challenge of change?
Recognising the phases, even for yourself, is the key. Then the change management plan should be designed with time and flexibility carefully built in. During the first phases it is important to recognise what is being lost and to allow sufficient time to let go of the past. One of the most successful activities can be to formally acknowledge the ending and remember the positive aspects. The most important action? Let those impacted by the change lead the pace, however long it takes. Otherwise the change will never be totally successful. This requires flexibility in planning and engagement. Tricky but vital. Nobody said change was easy.
The Week: I hae been let down by my tools this week. My car has had to be serviced (needed a new alternator) and my phone is away for repair. This means I am without a mobile for at least another week. How did we manage before mobile phones? I am almost about to buy an old-fashioned diary! Even to the extent that I usually look at my calendar to write my weekly blog? So, let’s try the old memory banks to remember what I have done this week. Oh yes, went to another excellent WIRE (Women In Rural Enterprise) networking meeting in Bury St Edmunds. The Suffolk one is run by Alex Parr. There are others around the UK. Alex has a well-deserved reputation for the quality of her meetings and she also runs The Brainstrust. Wire is £40 for the year and £5 to attend the event. www.wireuk.org/suffolk and brains-trust.co.uk/. On Thursday morning I attended the women’s networking group in Chelmsford run by Glenys Chatterley. This is held at the Miami Hotel every first Thursday of the month. No charge. www.essexbusinessnetwork.co.uk On Friday evening it was my second visit to the free business networking Colchester biz held at The Crown, Ardleigh Junction of the A12. An informal open event which is always well attended and make a great start to the weekend from 4.30 p.m onwards. www.colbiz.net The rest of the week was spent preparing for the Highflyingdivas Forum first meeting booked for Monday 27th September in Colchester. Half full now, it promises to be a fantastic event. I have booked it at a Charity venue so that the meeting room charge goes to a good cause. So if you are a professional woman who would like to support other women and get some mutual mentoring, this is the place to be!
Recommended Reading: Another book on change, Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, published in 1998, is written by Spencer Johnson It describes change in one’s work and life, and four typical reactions to said change by two mice and two “littlepeople”, during their hunt for cheese. A New York Times business bestseller since release, Who Moved My Cheese? remained on the list for almost five years and spent over 200 weeks on Publishers Weekly‘s hardcover nonfiction list So if you haven’t read it yet, take a look. You are in for a treat.
It is still holiday time for my son (all other children seem to have returned to school) and one activity he loves is swimming. He has also been attracted to the idea of scuba-diving. I saw a poster advertising a “try-dive” at our local swimming pool and phoned them. They said that they usually start at age 14 but the national accepted age is 12 and “would he be on his own?”. I weighed up the balance of either a disappointed child or a drowned mother and replied “no, I will be with him.” We duly arrived at the alloted time with t-shirts over swimsuits (to avoid chafing by the oxygen tanks). My son was dancing up and down on the spot with excitement at this point and my knees were similarly dancing together, through fear. You see, I am ok with swimming provided my head is above water. I had to be fished out of the pool when I was 8 yrs old as I accepted my sister’s promise that if I jumped off the top diving-board, she would “catch” me. I mean big sisters are always right and can be trusted at all times…???? I was 22 before I got into a pool again. So, it was with some trepidation that I attempted to listen to the multiple instructions being hurled at me by Sandra, my personal instructor. She was of course being extremely patient and clear but it is difficult paying attention when your heart is hammering, your knees are shaking, your brain is telling you “you’re going to drown, you’re going to drown” and you are trying to look confident whilst nodding your head in an intelligent way. Son Guy had Gus, as his instructor. A big beefy man with wonderful red paisley swimming trunks. At least I would have something colourful to aim for when I was scrambling about on the pool floor. Sandra and Gus threw our back-packs into the water which ominously floated corpse-like on the water’s surface. We were then kitted with flippers and masks. Five minutes later we were in the water, reunited with back-packs, tanks strapped to our backs and ready to go. Guy was off and at the other end of the pool whilst I struggled to maintain my balance, with a back-pack pulling me over backwards and a pair of flippers which did not seem to want to point in the direction I was supposed to go. Meanwhile I was breathing, Darth Vader like, through my oxygen mask, gripping on so tightly with my teeth that it wasnt’t long before my jaws told me that, I, may be enjoying myself but they, were not. We had almost an hour in the pool and it was fantastic. I soon got the hang of my flippers although the buoyancy is something I have to learn to manage. I was told that I swam just under the water with my tank on the surface, like a sharks-fin, for the entire session. I say, learn to manage, because of course Guy is determined that we will be going on a regular basis. It was fun and very reasonable. £10 each for the try dive and £5 of that goes to Essex Ambulance Service. For over an hour and personal instructors, I am impressed. We came away with smiles on our faces and certificates in our hands. For more details see BSAC at Bramston Sports Centre.