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28th June 2021

Developing Emotional Resilience to Change in the Workplace

The world of work is forever changing and will continue to despite how much we try to resist it. The level of change and type of change will depend on how we react to it or attempt to resist it. So what constitutes change in the workplace that affects us? Change usually sits in two places in work, it’s either process or people orientated. Let’s have look at a few examples:

  • Change in leadership.
  • Change in team.
  • Introduction of new technology or systems.
  • Changing your workplace location.
  • Working with new people.
  • A change in a colleague or management behaviour.
  • Facing job insecurity.
  • Change in workplace culture and values.
  • Changes in you – pressures from home, life changing events, finances.


Kubler Ross Change Curve

The Kubler Ross Change Curve [below] is a key tool to develop emotional resilience to manage your emotions through the change process and is invaluable in minimising conflict through a deeper sense of emotional intelligence. You will recognise these emotional responses to changes in your life, work and conflict and when you feel vulnerable. These feelings come from resistance to what we are facing.

All the negative emotions on the left are symbolic and normal when we are faced with fear. When fear clouds our judgement, we can behave in irrational ways and the outcome can be feelings of regret, guilt and shame.



Facilitating The Emotional Response Change

Let’s imagine you’ve just communicated or have received communication about a team and departmental reshuffle. The responses you will get or feel will be varied, and some may even be hidden although will still be felt internally. Here is a great guide to help you facilitate your teams and yourself through those emotional responses.


Shock to Denial

  • Repeat the message until it gets through.


Denial to Frustration

  • Provide an appropriate level of detail.
  • Tell them why this change is happening to minimise the shock.
  • Keep the focus on the vision.
  • Ask how they feel/ think about the situation and what is happening that makes them feel this way.
  • Keep talking about the problems that we have now with the old way of working as well as the future problems we will have if we leave things the same. You can both state these for the other person or ask question to get them to explore it.


Frustration to Blame

  • Prepare something for them to take away and read.
  • Give relevant facts and how it will affect people.
  • Ask positive questions (“What opportunities will this change provide for you?”).
  • Tell them what is not changing.
  • Challenge assumptions (“How do you think its going to turn out and why?”).
  • Create forums for brainstorming.
  • Ask what support they need to help them get through it.
  • Be honest with the problems.
  • Explore what could it be like (the Vision). How could it be better bearing in mind the problems that the old way had?


Blame to Acceptance/ Testing

  • Ask them how they can help others get through the change.
  • Ask questions that encourage them to think of current problems.
  • Celebrate the past and the value that it added.
  • Help them explore what the stepping stones might be to help them make a success of the change.


Acceptance /Testing to Understanding

  • Celebrate the progress they have made and communicate it.
  • Get them  increasingly involved in planning.
  • Give structure/ timescales for change and allow them to time for tangents.
  • Praise progress appropriately.
  • Encourage experimentation.
  • Don’t provide all the solutions, let them find them.


Understanding to Commitment:

  • Support team activity.
  • Encourage them to reflect on how far they have come.
  • Talk about what we’ve learnt from our experiences.
  • Keep raising the bar.
  • Celebrate with a ‘closure event’.


Other points to consider

  • We know that everyone is different and yet with change we treat everyone as if they were the same.
  • You can’t push people through as this will cause more Resistance to the Change. You have to facilitate them through the curve.
  • People can go back through the curve as well as forwards.
  • What are they doing/ saying that is helping you understand where they are in the curve?
  • Are you using the right medium of communication for them?

I hope these provide some useful means to appropriately develop the emotional resiliance of your team.

If you’d like to discuss any of these with me, or would like to learn about our various trainings available for you and your team, email me at catherine@andinspireme.com or hello@andinspireme.com and we can have a chat.


Thank you for reading my blog.

Written by

Catherine Demaid

People and Infinite Possibilities Partner

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