Coping With And Successfully Managing Change

This article looks at two methodologies for coping with and managing change. Understanding change and how you may unconsciously and consciously respond to it is critical to your ability to successfully manage change.

Before looking at the methodologies it might be helpful to study a simple summary of the emotional cycle that many people experience when going through change of any sort that they initially perceive to be negative to them.

Denial – a defense mechanism that usually incorporates refusing to accept facts, reality, recommendations etc., relating to the change that is taking place. It is a normal psychological response and is therefore quite natural. perfectly natural.

Anger – a powerful emotional response that can be exhibited inwardly towards oneself or outwardly to close friends, colleagues managers etc. It is not easy to predict where it will be directed and if you can remain detached from this emotion when others are struggling with change you will most likely be of great help to them.

Negotiating and compromising – as the emotion and denial subsides the response may then be to make the most of the change ahead. What can I rescue from the situation? Can the change be good for me and what will my new role be in it? If this does not happen the emotions may change from anger to sadness, fear, continuing uncertainty etc. Not a healthy place to be and one that needs support and encouragement.

Acceptance – this may take place quickly for some and much longer for others. It is possible for some to perhaps never truly accept and feel that the change has been terribly unfair. If acceptance is taking place it will normally be accompanied with some objectivity, detachment and settling of the emotions. Again those who struggle to reach this stage may need help.

If you feel you may need help coping with change then please contact your line manager or your HR team.

The Change Management Iceberg

(Wilfried Kruger)

Above the surface issues


Below surface issues


What do you think this model is suggesting?

The iceberg diagram represents, visually, one of the most important issues in change management – internal barriers.

These could be internal in the sense of people within teams (at times hidden and silently resistant) and also in the sense of internal (in the mind) perceptions and beliefs. It is these internal barriers that can cause considerable resistance to change and the psychological models described in the other e-learning articles help to explain where these barriers may arise.

Managers that focus just on the issues above the surface which typically include technology, processes, budgets and information systems will fail to bring all of their people and teams on board. What most people need is engagement with their values, beliefs and attitudes. Without some attention to the deeper seated elements of the iceberg (that which is below the surface) managers run the risk of dealing with just the superficial surface issues and may only receive partial buy-in to their projects and management of change.

There are four main people characteristics when change occurs and these are described below:

Promoters – these have a positive attitude towards change both for the organisation and personally. They will be supportive of the change and probably seek to take advantage of it for career development and promotional opportunity.

Opponents – these have a negative attitude towards change both within the organisation and themselves. Managers of opponents will not succeed in dealing just with the surface issues and must engage with them at their deeper levels of beliefs and perceptions.

Hidden Promoters – these will have a generally positive attitude towards change but are perhaps not yet convinced about this particular change. Management may have to work more on their mindsets but also the management of power and politics may be significant. They may require more persuading about the opportunities for them and the organisation and perhaps the customer too.

Hidden Opponents – these will have a negative and cynical attitude towards change and can be understood by reference to the Self Awareness and Wellbeing: an introduction module to explain how our experiences shape our beliefs and personalities. It means that management must work on their beliefs and supply them with good solid reasons (information) as well as time to begin to influence them successfully.

Kruger’s opinion is that management must deal with change continually and that dealing only with the surface issues will mean that acceptance and buy-in is also only at this level.

Ongoing change requires energy and enthusiasm. This can be released by looking below the surface to the root causes of our behaviour. Technology represents "just 10% of the iceberg", said Professor Erik Brynjolfsson, (Center for eBusiness at MIT in Cambridge, Massachussetts). Business processes, staffers and culture make up the other 90% and, he warned, managers "need to think about this and invest in it".

Other resources found in later sections of this report may also help you manage change e.g. Comfort Zones, Self-Awareness and The Power of Our Perceptions.

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© 2012 7Futures Ltd. 7Futures Ltd offers general information which is for educational purposes only. The information provided here is not a prescription system and is not intended to be a substitute for professional exercise or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is for general information purposes only and should not be read as a personal recommendation for changes in lifestyle behaviour, nutrition, or exercise. 7Futures cannot be held responsible for any injury or illness relating to any such lifestyle or behavioural changes undertaken. 
Mark Davies