The four stages of the change curve that small business owners should know about

The Change Curve is a helpful tool for small businesses to understand the stages of personal transition that each employee goes through. Kubler Ross developed this model to explain the grieving process (shock and denial, anger and fear, acceptance and commitment).

This model helps small business owners predict how employees will respond to a change and provides advice on how to help and support employees in their personal transitions.

An organization does not change only because of new systems or processes. It changes because the people within the organization adapt and change. Only when people within the organization make their own personal transitions can the organization benefit from the change.

The Change Curve model

The Change Curve model helps small business owners understand the stages of personal transition and organizational change. This model includes four stages that employees go through when adapting to a change.

Level – 1: shock and denial

Level – 2: anger and fear

Stage – 3: Acceptance

Level – 4: Obligation

Stage 1: shock and rejection

This is the first reaction small business owners see in their employees – they respond to the challenges of the status quo. This reaction is more likely to be seen in experienced and established employees, as these employees are indifferent to new systems and procedures. They feel uncomfortable because of fear of the unknown, fear of doing something wrong and a lack of information. They feel threatened and fear failure. In these circumstances, they usually take it as a friction rather than an opportunity.

What do the employees here need?

Employees can experience this phase several times. To get over this, employees need information, need to understand what is going on in the organization and know how to get help from the organization.

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Note: This phase particularly affects those employees who have not yet experienced a major change.

What should the organization do?

At this stage, it is the responsibility of owners to communicate with their employees and educate them about the benefits they will gain from adapting to new systems – personally and professionally. Remember not to overwhelm your employees by flooding them with tons of information at once, or they may become even more confused.

Level 2: anger and fear

This is the second level seen in employees. When employees react to a change, they begin to express their anger, concern, resentment, or fear. You can actively or passively resist change. This stage could be dangerous, and if the organization doesn’t manage it carefully, it could lead to chaos.

What should the organization do?

At this stage, the small business owner should carefully deal with employee objections. Because the response to change is personal and emotional, it is impossible to prevent it. Therefore, the organization should try to address employees’ experiences and iron out the issues as early as possible.

Note: As long as employees remain at stage 2 of the change curve by escaping progress, the change will not be successful.

Level 3: assumption

This is a tipping point for both the people and the organization as people have stopped focusing on what they have lost and started to embrace change. They begin to explore change and get a real idea of ​​what’s good and what’s not, and how to adapt accordingly.

What should the organization do?

This phase is crucial – it takes time for employees to learn and accept things. So don’t expect your employees to be 100% productive at this stage. Give them time so they can learn and explore without much pressure.

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Level 4: Obligation

At this stage there will be a commitment from employees to analyze and embrace the change. They start redesigning the way they work and this is the stage where the organization begins to see the benefits of the change.

benefits of the change

At this stage, the organization will see the benefits of being committed to the welfare of their employees when they are going through a period of grief. The positive effects of the change curve can now be seen more clearly in terms of productivity and profits.

The change curve is an effective model for small business owners to manage people. Locating an employee on the change curve helps the business owner decide how to effectively communicate information to employees and know what type of support they need. This helps them to take the necessary measures and protect both the company and the employees.