People - Top Tips - Adapting to change

Adapting to change


This document is designed as a quick reference guide to adapting to change.

This will enable you to gain knowledge of a particular skill, task or process.

This means you can quickly find the key information that you need and refer to it on an ongoing basis whenever you need to refresh your knowledge.


What you need to know…

Change is a normal part of life, but it may have a way of making you feel adrift and uncertain. This is especially true with change in the workplace. Changes at work - even good ones, such as getting the new job you wanted, can make you feel anxious. Other changes may make you frustrated or angry. Although you can’t always control change, you can learn to control the way it affects you. Your response to change has a lot to do with whether you sink or swim.

If you cling to your old ways, the force of change may sink your ship. But if you learn to adapt, change usually brings new opportunities. So why not let go of the familiar and reach for the new? Mourn the loss of the old ways, then move on.




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People - Top Tips - Adapting to change

The change curve

Progressing through the Change Curve


Usually people will go through the four phases in the order shown, although at varying speeds. In order to make the change effectively, you must reach and go through the last stage, having successfully moved through all the others.

You may on occasion get stuck in a particular phase and need helping out, possibly by counselling; again the key is to recognise the stage you have reached. Note that although there is a dip in output, the end result is a higher level than before the change.






People - Top Tips - Adapting to change

The change curve


     In the first box, is the Denial phase. Typically, you may:

     Avoid discussing the topic if possible, appearing unconcerned

     Wait and see, avoid taking initiative, act as if nothing is happening

     Do routine work only, avoiding stepping outside your own job role

     Focus on small details and disregard the ‘big picture’

     Blame other people, the company, the state of the economy

     Question the method or data used to make a decision


Consequences of this include:

     Delaying the inevitable, lost opportunities to adapt early

     Poor or no planning, hindering the changes needed



In the second box, is Resistance. Typically, you may:


     Be angry at, and complain to others about the company

     Disagree and refuse to comply with decisions made

     Feel overwhelmed, unfairly treated, and powerless to affect matters

     Become quiet, passive, and careless of the future

     In addition to the behaviour of its individuals, a team may:

     Have little energy, and wait for direction and specific instructions

     Not take the initiative, such as starting projects or new work

     Argue over new ideas, and criticise those who are positive

     Predict doom for the company, giving examples of past failures


Consequences of this include:

     The system is challenged and the change process slowed

     Outcomes of the change are influenced

     Accountability is temporarily avoided

However, it will also:

     Provide time to seek order and stability

     Give an opportunity to vent feelings and emotions

     Create visibility for concerns, leading to addressing them



In the third box, is in Exploration and the focus becomes more positive and forward looking. Typically, you may:

     Look for new ways of thinking and working, and take more risks

     Have the energy and the desire to learn and solve problems

     Create a vision of the future, involving generating lots of new ideas

Consequences of this include people being:

     Ready to adapt, learn and plan for the future

     Prepared to consider and agree to help the change and each other

     Able to work well together but have trouble staying focussed



In the fourth box, the individual is in Commitment. Typically, you may:


     Feel confident and in control of your own work and life

     Feel they have ‘come through it’ and are consequently less stressed

     Work efficiently and effectively, and in a focussed manner

     Feel they know what to do, can do it, and agree this within the team


Consequences of this include:

     High performance

     Achievement of results

     Focus on continued improvement

     Improved readiness for subsequent changes


Step by Step

Use Change to Your Advantage

By accepting change, you can deal with it in a productive way. First, map out your goals, both work-related and personal ones. How can the changes taking place help you get where you want to go? By forcing you to rethink old ideas, work-related changes may help you make a few good changes of your own.


People - Top Tips - Adapting to change

What matters to you?

If you know what’s important to you, responding to change is easier. Think about the questions below, and be honest with your answers. The only correct answer is the one that’s right for you. Your answers can help you stay on course despite the uncertainties of change. Once you know where you want to go, you can make choices (and changes) that will help you reach your destination.


     What do I want from my job?

     Do I like predictive, creative, secure or independent work?

     Do I work best alone or with others?

     Do I want strong leadership or room for independence?

     How much emotional, physical, and financial security do I need