by Karin Bonev

February 11, 2020

You and your leadership team have been planning for weeks – maybe even months – for a significant organizational change. The team has identified the right executive sponsor, created a clear vision, articulated needed behaviors and developed compelling communications.

The CEO announces the change at a town hall and managers hold team meetings. There’s some conversation about it, but not many folks are embracing the change. So, what went wrong?

The answer: absolutely nothing.

In fact, you’re likely well on your way to successful organizational change. You just need to let your employees catch up to senior leadership on the change curve and support them along the way.

Change Curve

The change curve outlines the journey each of us takes from the moment a change is announced. We all start on the left. We’re comfortable with where we are. Emotionally, we don’t want to do things differently even though rationally we may know change is needed. When the change is announced, we move through each stage of the change curve.

  1. Denial – “This change doesn’t impact me.”
  2. Resistance – “I’m not changing.”
  3. Exploration – “Maybe this is the right thing to do.”
  4. Acceptance – “We do need to make this change.”

Ultimately, most of us arrive at the right and are excited about and supportive of the change.

Each person moves through the change curve at their own pace. Some move faster than others and readily embrace the change. Others move more slowly. Sometimes individuals slide back to the left before moving to the right again.

The change curve reminds us of four important tenants.

  1. Employees and leaders are in different places when change is announced. When senior leadership announces a change, they’ve already moved through the curve. They’ve embraced the concept of the change and are committed to making it a reality. However, the rest of the employee base is all the way on the left – just beginning their journey.
  2. Change is complicated. Imagine thousands of individual employees moving through the change curve at their own pace with their own thoughts and behaviors. Supporting a company along that journey can be very complex.
  3. Change takes time. You can’t force someone through the change curve. It’s an individual journey that leadership needs to allow employees to take.
  4. Communication is vital to the journey. Ongoing communications during an organizational change effort supports employees through the change curve and maintains momentum. Reminding employees why the change is happening, sharing the vision for the future and illustrating the wins along the way are important.

Is your organization gearing up for a change? Contact our change management team to discuss how D&E can help you succeed.