The Grief Cycle – The Change Management Grief Resistance Tool

Change management is the identification of techniques or approaches needed to have a smooth transition from an existing state to a desired one. Changes within an organization should be carefully planned so that potential disruptions or threats that may come along the way will be anticipated, such as a possible resistance from people who are not yet ready for changes to take effect.

This is the reason why assessing change readiness is very important to develop ways on how to successfully introduce and in the long run, implement the new process. The role of change management is very critical to identify the impacts that changes will most likely have on individual’s behaviors, and work ethics that eventually will greatly affect the business operations.

Such individual’s grief resistance to change can be understood by studying the Grief Cycle, a tool developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD, a Swiss-born psychiatrist and author of the book entitled, On Death and Dying. The stages of the Grief Cycle have been adapted by most companies and these are as follows (in sequential order):

(a) Shock – sense of being paralyzed, distant, and removed from one’s feelings of grief.
(b) Denial – difficulty in accepting the reality of change.
(c) Anger – develop ill feelings with people who are responsible for the change, usually the management.
(d) Bargaining – try to get the best out of the situation.
(e) Depression – acceptance of the losses that may come in the way when changes are realized.
(f) Acceptance – coming to terms with change versus losses, facing the reality and moving on towards a new commitment.