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Best Ways to Understand and Manage Changes at Work (and private life). Toolkit included.

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

"The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable". John F. Kennedy


Changes at work and business world happen on a regular basis. We all react to them differently. Sometimes changes have direct impact on us as employees, sometimes we have to deliver these changes as supervisors and managers, sometimes we are a project manager and sometimes we are an HR lead for ensuring these changes are scoped, delivered and implemented as envisaged.


Sometimes we choose to go through a change, such as changing a job, changing a career, or changing a house. Sometimes these changes are done to us, which is more difficult to process than self initiated changes. Either way, this journey through changes can be quite unsettling and daunting.


This blog will give you some perspectives, help you accept it may feel difficult at times and offer some and ideas tools to cope with it and process easier.

Let's starts from how we manage ourselves during changes

Not sure how you react to changes, complete below self assessment to give you an idea where you stand with changes before we start managing it for others.


To assess your change management skills, indicate your agreement or disagreement with each of the statements, using this five-point scale:

  1. Strongly disagree

  2. Disagree

  3. Neither agree nor disagree

  4. Agree

  5. Strongly agree

Readily takes on new challenges, and tackles them with great energy and enthusiasm

Responds positively and flexibly when asked to change

Proactively introduces changes that significantly improve the performance and reputation of your team

Implements changes in a planned and coordinated way

Acts speedily and decisively when planning and implementing change

Treats people as adults and communicates clearly and honestly with them when introducing changes

Listens to the genuine concerns of other people and takes account of their concerns when managing change

​Shows courage and tenacity to overcome obstacles and criticism when introducing change

Reflecting on your own ratings and perhaps the ratings of others, you might then like to consider what you need to do differently to manage change more effectively.


Keeping our perspectives

Gentle reminders:


  • You cannot expect to control an event, person or interaction - don't wreck yourself trying. Things sometimes take their own course. We need to aspire to be more agile, flexible and understanding.

  • You cannot plan every detail and expect things to happen that way - they certainly won't. We need to allow and prepare for some ambiguity and uncertainty.

  • You cannot predict future, you can only make informed guesses - we are all wrong sometimes. This is how we learn.

  • You cannot fully understand each person's responses to change - ever! We should never assume we know how it feels for other people. Sometimes all we need to do is ask questions, listen and observe.

  • It is difficult to fully understand your own response to change, you may react to each change you come across differently. This is how we learn about ourselves. Through experiences.

  • You cannot fully understand the complex system of a workplace - the unexpected will usually happen. All we can do is prepare and expect, develop flexibility, allow for scope to manage any new information, process and adapt.

The change curve

You will usually see a below change curve which explains to people phases what they are likely to go through when they are embarking on dealing with pretty much any changes in life.


This change curve was developed by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Dr. Kübler-Ross was was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies, and author of the internationally best-selling book, On Death and Dying (1969), where she first discussed her theory of the five stages of grief, also known as the "Kübler-Ross model". Many people have tried to develop their own change curve. Please see below an example.



Why do changes fail - for us as individuals?

Changes fail for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes we blame managers or poor communication but sometimes it could be our mindset and perceptions. Does below list sound familiar?

  • Fears - I might lose my job.

  • Confusion - I want to stay in my comfort zone.

  • Flight - it's better somewhere else.

  • Lack of skill - I won't be able to keep up.

  • Not enough incentive - What's in it for me?

  • Resentment - What's wrong with the way we do it now?

  • Difficulty - This is much more difficult?

  • Lack of honesty.

  • Poor clarity.

  • Ineffective leadership.

  • Lack of self-awareness.

If you see these thoughts get to you, please consult further with your friend, manager, counsellor etc. I also suggest that you write your thoughts in a journal and see how your mindset and perspective change in time. You will learn a lot about yourself this way and you can also use it as a conversation starter when you confide in people around how you feel.


Reasons we resist change

We can feel numb when we realise some big changes are happening around us, it can take a while to sink in. We may have to process it a bit longer, reflect, think before we start responding to it. Take your time.


There are many reasons why we resist change. They can be:

  • A fear of failure - very common.

  • Fear of the unknown

  • Need for balance

  • Frustration

Types of organisational change

There are many organisational changes but they can usually can be broken down as:

  • 'Tinkering' - very small changes, perhaps change in a process or policy.

  • Small scale changes, usually known as incremental changes that can take place over a long time as employees get used to it every day with no major announcements.

  • Large scale changes, usually known as transformational changes. This could be due to a new leadership, merger, growth, reduction etc

Reasons can also vary. They are usually:

  • Internal performance, new system, efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Customer inputs

  • Competitive threats

  • Financial results

  • New business opportunities

  • Regulatory changes

  • Strategic planning

  • Vision and strategy development

  • Process design / business process re-engineering

  • New technology

  • Restructuring

  • Merger / acquisition

  • Organisational design interventions

  • New product offering

  • New service offering

What to do if you are a subject to change or leading on delivering changes?

Please ask yourself two questions below before you proceed with transitioning, planning and delivery. If not sure, ask your managers, people who are asking us to lead on these projects.

  1. Do I know what is changing?

  2. Do I fully understand the reason for change?


If you have been asked to lead on changes in the workplace but not sure where to start from, you could be a manager or HR professional, please note you can download an all in one Change Framework from my digital store which includes following:

  1. A presentation for supervisors, managers, senior leaders that you can adapt further

  2. Toolkit with various tools - you can adapt and amend further.
















I have led on small and large transformational changes and can certainly spend some time with you if you feel you need to upskill yourself in change management.


You can book a 1:1 with me here, Work Coach on demand, option if you would like us to discuss your current projects.


You can also download a project management toolkit I use for all of my projects, no project management qualification or course required. It is a very easy and simple toolkit to use for all of us. It will help us with keeping us on track and to present progress in an efficient and effective way.


Let me know if you have any questions. You can email one on info@focusyourself.co.uk


Best wishes


Sanja




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