The Change Cycle: How People Can Survive and Thrive in Organizational Change

Reading is fun. But not every book is really worth reading it – especially when it comes to business books. Therefore I already started the “Book of the Week” Series, where I share comprehensive abstracts on my favourite books.

Now I want to start another series called: “Business Books” – featuring information on books in a more compact way. Today I would like to present you “The Change Cycle: How People Can Survive and Thrive in Organizational Change”, by Ann Salerno and Lillie Brock (2008).

Although change is usually unpredictable, the process of how people move through life’s change can be anticipated. In The Change Cycle, Ann Salerno and Lillie Brock provide readers with the six sequential stages of change, as well as the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with each stage. In Stage 1 (Loss), employees are dealing with the knowledge that life at work has changed or will change. Managers and leaders must realize that it is better to be open and realistic about the change, acknowledging ramifications, listening to objections, and validating concerns.

In Stage 2 (Doubt), the angst from Stage 1 gives way to resistance, skepticism, resentment, and even anger. Without clear message channels up and down the organization, the emotion that is being released can work against the change, slowing productivity. Getting more data is a central Stage 2 objective. Stage 3 (Discomfort) is a transitional stage, where people may either develop momentum to move forward or stall out. The challenge for managers and leaders is less about communicating and getting people to buy in than it is about helping employees avoid feeling buried under the new tasks, procedures, roles, and products. Stage 4 (Discovery) is an energetic and hopeful phase. Employees’ sense of control is returning, and with it, energy.

The key in Stage 4 is to capitalize on these positive developments. In Stage 5 (Understanding), people feel confident. Managers and leaders supervising during Stage 5 should maintain focus on results, refrain from being overly hands-on, mark and celebrate progress, and prize employee confidence. When people reach Stage 6 (Integration), they have demonstrated adaptability. While on the job, the Stage 6 mind is capable of laser-like focus. People say the thing they like most about the Integration phase is the mental acuity and crisp concentration.

The Change Cycle is intended for any reader who must communicate, carry out, integrate, or simply deal with a challenging work transition. The authors clearly illustrate the six stages of change and how to navigate them. Given its comprehensive treatment of change, this book is appropriate for both managers and employees who are undergoing change in the workplace.


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