Change Implementation Techniques for Laying a Foundation for New Ways

Technique 1.64 Understanding the Grief Cycle

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Introduction

. Experience of grief at some stage of our lives is integral to the human condition.

. This cycle was developed by Dr Kubler‐Ross and others to help explain the emotional stages people went through after experiencing a death of a close relative, ie mourning; a similar signal can occur with people as they go through a change process at work.

. The grief cycle (in which we must expect and accept the signs of grieving) involves 9 stages:

. i) shock or denial or disbelief ‐ (people deny that the loss has taken place, ie rude collision with harsh reality; "it will be over real soon"; apathy; numbness/fear)

ii) anger ‐ especially if lack of consultation or information (everything from grumbling to rage; often misdirected or undirected, such as "shoot the messenger of bad news"; can lead to foot dragging, mistakes and even sabotage)

iii) bargaining ‐ (unrealistic attempts to get out of the situation or to make it go away; questioning the findings and challenging the specific details so that it supports their view of the world; trying to strike a special deal; making big promises that they will "save you a bundle of money" or "double the output" if you'll undo the change)

iv) anxiety ‐ (silent or expressed fear of an unknown and probably difficult future, or simply catastrophic fantasies)

v) sadness ‐ (everything from silence to tears ‐ the heart of the grieving process)

vi) disorientation ‐ (confusion and forgetfulness even by previously organised people; feeling of being lost and insecure)

vii) depression ‐ (feeling of being down, flat, dead; in the pit of despair; feelings of hopelessness and being tired all the time)

viii) acceptance ‐ (reality enters the scene; changes are accepted and people move forward to new possibilities; learning starts and action becomes possible)

ix) action ‐ (people are starting to do positive things on the change process)

Some typical comments that will be said or thought during different parts of the grief cycle

Shock/Denial

"...They cannot be serious..."

"...These will not/cannot last..."

"...This can't be happening..."

Anger

"...I refuse to do..."

"...After all I've done for this organization/community..."

"...I'm going to the union..."

"...OK If you want it that way, I'll do it exactly to the letter. Then we will see who was right..."

"...How dare they..."

Bargaining

"...If I do.....can I be excused from..."

"...How about we..."

"...What if we..."

"...Do a deal..."

Depression

"...It's not worth the effort anymore..."

"...My world's collapsed..."

"...Things will never be the same..."

Acceptance

"...Things have changed..."

"...Let's make the most of it..."

"...Well if it is to be so..."

"...So be it..."

Action

"...How can I get involved...?"

"...What can I do...?"

Where are your people in the grief cycle?

Stage of grief cycle

Number of people and comments

i. shock denial or disbelief


ii. anger


iii. bargaining


iv. anxiety


v. sadness


vi. disorientation


vii. depression


viii. acceptance


ix. action


(sources: William Bridges, 1991; Robert Heller, 1998; Kathleen Liebfied, 1996; Dennis Hall, 2006a)


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