Navigating Through a “Storm” – Necessary Steps to Manage Change
Navigating Through a “Storm” — Necessary Steps to Manage Change
by Doni Landefeld, Ph.D.
Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach
Certified Positive Intelligence Coach
EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360 Certified
“Something has to die in order for something else to live.” – Danny Ceballos, CEO of Unleashed Consulting
Consider my colleague’s quote above. It’s a bit extreme, right? And yet, when it comes to change management of any kind, there’s a lot of truth to his wisdom that may be applied in organizations and in your personal life.
Enduring change of any kind means letting go of something else. And letting go indicates there is a loss that is occurring on some level. Loss typically involves grieving. And grief involves honor and love for something/someone else. It can be quite difficult to navigate through change without an awareness and acceptance of emotions. Failure to process the thoughts and feelings that you or your team members are experiencing will result in more resistance and less recovery. This is when change management turns sour in an organization or when an individual is unable to bounce back from the loss. That which we resist persists.
Let’s use the recent example of my home flooding from a storm surge caused by Hurricane Ian. Like so many in my community, I’ve lost comfort, security, and the reliability of things and systems that my family and I built from 20 years of putting our stamp of ‘love’ into our home. Being displaced from our home means letting go of what we created. To embrace the future and the next steps, we must let go of former things and systems if we are going to move on and recover. Letting go requires awareness, acceptance, and processing of the range of emotions that at times, have been consuming.
And then there’s the global implication. Our community is grieving collectively because without choice and beyond our control, the change that has resulted from the storm has wreaked havoc and devastation that will be felt for years. My family was fortunate compared to many who lost everything or even worse, lost loved ones.
And so, I realized in my example, that change, letting go, and loss, require navigating through the 5 stages of grieving. Here’s an example:
Denial – No way this is happening, not to me! We’re not going to have our home flood.
Anger – Why the $*&# did this happen, I don’t deserve this *&#%!
Depression – Can show up as fatigue, crying, despair, or general sadness about letting go
Bargaining – Maybe if I ________, then __________ will happen instead.
Acceptance – Initial peace sets in and clarity, even focus of next steps falls into place. Initial next steps are made, indicating recovery has begun.
Emotions as we all know can be messy. Navigating through emotions in the stages above may not necessarily happen in a linear way. Some of the stages might be skipped or there may also be some vacillating between stages, especially when one emotion is not recognized and honored for long enough.
These stages also apply to organizational change and how leaders respond accordingly. One hot topic is hybrid work since many employees have resisted a complete return to the office. It’s interesting because, at the beginning of lockdown, most employees were far from enamored with the concept of work from home (WFH). And they grieved the change – the loss of going into the office where they had things like physical boundaries. Two years since the introduction of WFH, many employees have thrived and demonstrated successful acclimation, evident through project/task completion. And now, there’s the grieving associated with the return to the office. The return to the office and all the reflecting that happened during the pandemic is what has spawned the Great Resignation and more recently – quiet quitting – which is doing the bare minimum of job requirements.
So how does recovery happen so change is embraced and converted as successfully as possible? It requires awareness, acceptance, and processing of emotions as they occur. This may include one or more of the 5 stages associated with grieving. An awareness of emotions, sensations, thoughts, and feelings needs to be acknowledged. It is sitting with an emotion and acknowledging it. Sitting with and accepting an emotion is the only way to move up the ladder of emotion to a more manageable level. For example, moving from anger to frustration first requires awareness and acceptance to process anger.
Extreme examples will likely require more time to progress up the ladder of emotions. In this case, patience is indeed a necessary virtue. Slowing down to speed up progress, is imminent. Applying deep listening and empathy will likely be part of the steps to help resistant employees. A consultant may shrink some of the change, and help walk you through awareness, acceptance, and the steps to successfully navigate change.
On a personal note – I want to flex my optimism muscle for brighter days ahead. To borrow the wishes shared by a client after Hurricane Ian, practicing the characteristics of gratitude, flexibility, and patience has helped tremendously (thank S.L.!) The unwelcome change brought about by Hurricane Ian has required me to lean into my training in both Positive and Emotional Intelligence, and I’m thankful it has helped so much. And, coincidentally (or not), my temporary home happens to be on Brightside Court in the community where I’ll likely live for several months. I embrace it as a sign and wish all of my audience, whether you’re in Southwest Florida or elsewhere – peace and fulfillment as you navigate the storms that are an inevitable part of life at home, work, and everywhere in between.
If you would like to learn more about how you may successfully navigate ‘storms’, let’s connect. Schedule your complimentary strategy session here:
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