Working through a change programme

Recognise this famous quote?

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – I don’t speak that good French so rely on the translators to tell me that it means: “The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.”

In my years of working as an executive coach I have found that the hardest thing to overcome is the inherent resistance to change. It seems that in almost everyone I have come across there is some resistance or push-back to change. 

To make sense of this I looked at the various graphs showing how change is perceived and the one that came up most was the Kubler-Ross model, see below.

kubler-ross-model

The problem with this model for me was that Denial was not the first stage. And that Self Esteem was not one of the variables that were impacting on the change.

It took only a few minutes to realise why. The Kubler-Ross model is useful when explaining emotional reactions to a death or serious loss.

It was not applicable for senior business people engaging in a change programme.

What I found was that there were different factors at play and with it came very different responses.

In every single case the initial reaction to change was positive. They all relished the idea of discovery as shown below

Reaction to change

Where things became problematic was during the discovery phase where some of the strongly held beliefs were challenged. That lead to Dissonance.

If it was left untreated the Dissonance overwhelmed the coachee and they gave up.

If they persisted however, they got through this and went through to the design phase where their enthusiasm started to climb and their desire to progress returned.

It is then that an external support network can really help. They can be objective, reassure, be empathetic and open up new lines of thought. That is what a good executive coach can play a part.

So how might you overcome the dissonance and move to the Design phase?