Unexpected change. Woah! Haven’t we experienced that in spades lately? 

How to manage it in ourselves and our team members starts with understanding the key phases of unexpected change.

Over the past two weeks I have shared tips on how to keep teams engaged remotely, dealing with a loss of control and different techniques to help you and your team move through fear, frustration and anger. 

Phases of unexpected change

Any unexpected change typically has 3 phases – Ending, the Neutral Zone and then the New Beginning.

The last 2 two weeks of tips focused on the Ending phase – feelings of shock, denial, anger, fear, stress, loss of control. The Neutral zone is when we want to move on from those feelings and thoughts but don’t know how, but move towards finding a way to adjust to our new situation.  

Some of you may already be wanting to get to the other side of this, and I get that. But as a leader it is important to recognise that your team members may be in a different phase. Some may still be stuck in the Ending phase where they are likely to be blaming, naming, or not willing to change how they do things. These people are struggling with moving out of the Ending phase.

I recently wrote an article to help these team members get unstuck. Conversely, you also may have people who are in the new beginning phase and wanting everyone to just “move on”, while others may be in the Neutral Zone. It is called the Neutral Zone because we are changing gears from reverse into first gear towards a new road and beginning but don’t know where to start. 

As a leader it is also important to recognise that team members will be in different phases, which may cause tension amongst the team.

So try this…

In your next team meeting, show or draw the change curve. Explain how adjusting to change works, and that everyone can be at different stages which means you may see different behaviours as a result.  Explain to the team that is it your goal to get the team to the other side, while we all need to have some patience as we head there.

Last week in another article I suggested coming up with fun ways to bring your teams’ attention to when the team isn’t working well together. This would be good to use here too.

Margie Ireland, Director of Connect Inspire Transform, works with CEO’s, executives, HR professionals, managers and leaders. Margie is a psychologist with a strong commercial background of 25 years and specialises in supporting highly capable leaders to thrive in challenging times. To discuss your needs and to book an initial no-obligation 15 minute call, click here.