Emotional Rollercoaster Starts with Change

The plan is done. The executive team has conducted their offsite planning sessions, and either developed a new strategic plan or updated the current one. This required some changes to organizational processes affecting most if not all departments. The emotional rollercoaster begins.

Now it’s time to implement. Department managers were brought into the planning during the final stages to get their input and buy-in. Now that the plan is ready, the task of communicating this down and across the organization is ahead. Is it possible to do this without causing major upheaval and worker disruption?

Probably not. Each person will go through an emotional rollercoaster, but there are things that can be done to mitigate the turmoil these changes may create. Leaders need to recognize at the outset that any change will kick off a rollercoaster of emotions in each and every person. How they handle the change is a different story. The executive team and department managers already went through theirs in the planning process. Now it’s time for the staff to experience their own emotional rollercoaster.

Start by recognizing that this is a natural, normal and predictable occurrence. Any time a change is made, regardless of how big or small, it sets off an emotional rollercoaster. Some rollercoasters are instantaneous; others take longer (even months or more to weather through). But it will happen. And there are ways to manage through them effectively.

emotional rollercoaster comes with changeSimilar to the grief process, everyone goes through five recognized stages in what the Haines Centre calls the Rollercoaster of Change®:

  • Shock and Denial,
  • Anger and Depression,
  • Hang In,
  • Hope and Readjustment, and
  • Rebuilding. 

Some will pass through these stages more quickly than others. Some will get stuck and need help moving through. And some will opt out altogether and choose to leave the organization.

As a leader, you need to understand these stages and where each of your staff members is at any point in time, so you can coach and guide them through the emotional process of change.  The key is to have a Game Plan before you announce the changes, and to focus on the future desired outcomes expected after the changes are implemented. Carefully crafting this ahead of time will reduce the turmoil, maintain morale, and keep productivity as high as possible.

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