Executive Coach Jessica Rogers explains how ‘The Change Curve’ is used in coaching to help people navigate change.
The Change Curve depicts the stages of transition and clearly demonstrates that each stage is transient and there is a point where individuals can move forward, wiser and more resilient with clear evidence of their ability to cope with and manage change.
The change curve effectively demonstrates the change in work and also in life.
What are the stages of transition as illustrated by the curve?
There is the initial shock where the individual is processing the change and may feel a sense of excitement and elation, this period may be short lived as the individual moves to a state of uncertainty, they may have a number of unanswered questions. In a work situation you may feel like the change is out of your control. In life, the change may be something you have not anticipated and may pose challenges you have never had to deal with before.
As you navigate this period of uncertainty you will hit what feels like rock bottom, and although this may be hard it also signifies a turning point, as from here you find your way out. At work, solutions may start to appear as you seek help or answers to your questions and at home, you will have found new ways to adapt to your new situations and new ways to tackle any of the challenges that have appeared.
How can you effectively navigate change?
- Embrace the change curve. Keep in mind that all transitions will go through the different stages, the length of each stage will vary but you will always move forward. Recognise where you are on the curve and consciously find what you need to move yourself forward to the next stage.
- Acknowledge the change. When you are going through a period of transition, recognise and accept that it is happening and take control of your life. Think about what you can do in advance to help yourself cope with the transition. Are there adjustments you can make to the way that you work or in your life that will help you manage the transition more smoothly. Write down your options and decide how you want to go forward. Use the impending change as an opportunity to take complete charge of your thoughts, feelings and actions.
- Be proactive and keep the lines of communication open. Proactively seek to find as much information as you can about the change that might be taking place. Don’t make assumptions. Speak to the leaders and managers in your team or HR, find those who may have more information than has been circulated. The more you know the more informed decisions and action you can take.
- Confront your feelings and ask for help. Don’t be a victim. Find ways to articulate how you are feeling and, what lies beneath it and look for support. Find the people in your wider network personal and professional that you can speak to and who can help.
- Face you fears. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen? Write down this down along with how you could deal with it. Seeing it in black and white can help you to get some perspective and diffuse some of the ‘stories’ you may have built up in your head.
- Replace fear with opportunity. When you are in a state of fear this often leads to negative thoughts and behaviours. Be mindful of when this is happening and consciously stop the negative thought patterns and move to a more positive mindset. What do you know to be true about your ability to handle the unknown and to handle challenge? What evidence can you draw on that illustrates your resilience in times of challenge? Use your knowledge and experience to embrace the change and help others to do the same. In a work setting use this as an opportunity to become a ‘change agent’.
- Be open and flexible. Allow yourself to be open to the opportunities that the change could present. As a ‘change agent’ adopt an attitude of excitement rather than dread. At work allow this to be your opportunity to help shape what is to come.
- Take one step at a time. Accept that any transition / change takes time, don’t try and rush the process, take one step at a time and use the curve to be mindful of where you are in the process and how this affects how you feel.
- Focus on your self care. To effectively manage any change you need to be mentally, physically and emotionally strong so look after your personal well being. Get out in the fresh air, take regular exercise and make time to rest. Take time out to do the things that feed your joy.
- Stay positive and focus on the bigger picture. Always keep in mind that although you may not be in complete control of the change, you are in control with how you deal with it.
Change and transition in life and in work is inevitable at some stage, it shows we are evolving and growing. Embrace the change as you move forward.