Change Management is Pain Management in Business and at Work

As I facilitated a strategic planning session this week for an organization in transition, I shared this plain and well-known fact:  that change management is pain management.  Moreover, change management often happens after the fact, not during the change.  “This is the first time we have consciously managed change as it happens,” one participant shared during the session.

Good, bad or indifferent, change almost always occurs, on its own or consciously planned, because the present organizational state has become too painful or inefficient:  e.g., “change or die.”

The term “change management” is actually hard work, a mixture of mediation, coaching, counseling, training, communication and acceptance navigation over an often-significant period of time.

The acceptance navigation piece is key.   Many of us are familiar with The Kübler-Ross model, commonly referred to as the “five stages of grief.”

When compared to the classic Change Curve utilized by Organizational Change Management professionals, the relationship between Change Management and Grief Management is abundantly clear:

Change Management is Pain Management in Business and at Work - Feb. 2015 - Deb Best Practices rev. 23 Feb. 2015 Final

Change almost always represents loss for most people, and therefore some sort of grief process occurs.  As you notice from the change curve model above, planning and proactive efforts to ease the pain during the change can help people move to the acceptance phase a bit more quickly; but it does not eliminate pain or discomfort.

Once again, planning on the front end minimizes the chances of a fire drill on the back end. Acceptance that change management is pain management in business and at work will only help move you, your team and your organization forward to the next great growth opportunity.



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