Whether You Have A New Job Or You Have A New Boss, It’s All About Dealing With Change

I started reading about the Kübler-Ross model of grief last year, and I’ve come back to it as I think it’s a great way to frame how we manage (or don’t manage) ourselves through change, or some kind of crisis. Change is something that we all talk about as “exciting” but the way it can actually feel is something else — because it usually starts out somewhere in between “wow” and “oh no!”


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I adapted a diagram for Jobcentre Plus over on Wikipedia for a presentation I’m giving for all of my teams this week. Because it faithfully represents how both organizational insiders and outsiders can feel right now.

Kübler-Ross model of grief

The first thing to note is that from the perspective of a longtimer in the organization, my arrival is a form of crisis. And they go from states 1 thru 4 … and either they head down route A. Or they head down route B.

Also, from the perspective of anyone who’s joined any organization from the outside, they’re either shocked by everything that is different than they expected and then find their way to a good norm. Or they never recover from matching what they thought they’d find to what they actually experience.

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What with the trend for US Employee engagement being on the average out of ten people: 3 people who are engaged, 5 people who are “just clocking in,” and 2 people who are actively disengaged, route B makes sense. It’s where 2 out of 10 people just end up. The rest might make it to route A, but then again they might just stay neutral and over time get “checked out” from the job.

So what’s the conclusion? I’m thinking that path A is super important. Path A is made easier by:

  1. Having a roadmap and showing that progress is being made.
  2. Celebrating wins along the way — which is a palpable way to show progress.
  3. Staying focused on where the positive people are seeing greatest impact.
  4. Repeating the steps required to get from start to finish until you bore yourself.
  5. Be sure to not ignore the negative folks to be aware of their perspective.

Remembering to do #1 is the key. It’s something I often tend to forget, and try to rely on a “compass” instead of having a “map.” But I now realize that most people want a map instead of a compass. So it’s my job to adapt. :+).


👉 Three Ways To Make Folks Less Nervous About Ch-ch-ch-Change (from 2017)

We want to stress with our teams that change is constant, suffering is optional. And we want to give negativity a deadline.

3 Ways To Make Change Happen

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