Change is constant.  Some of us will be enthusiastic about opportunities for change, and yet occasionally find ourselves unexpectedly struggling with a particular circumstance.  Others of us find change difficult.  How we respond to change in work and home settings may also differ.  

Understanding our own and others' responses to change and finding ways to navigate, influence and support these responses is a valuable skill for individuals, managers and leaders.  

The Kübler-Ross change curve

There are lots of principles, tools and methodologies available to help us with this.  Perhaps the best known is the Kübler-Ross change curve, described in (co-written by Elisabeth Goodman and ex-RiverRhee Associate Lucy Loh).

This approach was based on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross work with people confronting grief.  It illustrates the typical stages that people go through in response to change, and is at the core of most approaches to managing change.

Screen Shot 2020-01-08 at 09.51.47.png

Whether the people affected view a particular change as predominantly positive and to be welcomed, or as something negative, they will go through some version of this change cycle.

Giving people the time and opportunity to air their reactions to change, and to discuss them with you, is a great way for managers and leaders to support them and help them move through the change curve.

Providing some form of information or certainty, and involvement or control will make all the difference

Often what people struggle with in relation to change is not knowing what is going to happen and how it will affect them, or not having any sense of control about the outcome. 

Providing some kind of information, even if it's just to say "we don't know the details yet but this is what we do know, and this is when we will be able to say more", can dispel some of that uncertainly. 

Giving people the opportunity to have some kind of involvement, for example to provide their views or suggestions, and showing that these are valued, will give them a sense of control.

A leader who can do these things will help people move from what Richard McKnight described as victim, or survivor mode, to navigator mode and to potentially becoming an inspirational member of a team! (See more about this here:

Proactive leadership for change.jpg

Common factors for managing successful change

One of the authors of this blog, Elisabeth Goodman, was a co-founder of the APM's (Association for Project Management) Enabling Change SIG.  We facilitated a number of discussions about what enables successful change, and came up with a list of 'common factors', an edited form of which found was included in the eventual first publication from the SIG (

A starting list of common factors for successful change.jpg

You can read more about the outcome of these discussions here:

People may be more receptive to change than leaders give them credit for

Finally, a May-June 2019 article in Harvard Business Review provides a good reminder that people may be more receptive to change than we think.  You can find more details on the authors' observations here:

Further support on this topic

The Effective Team’s Change Management Workbook (RiverRhee Publishing 2013) will take you through the ‘people’ aspect of change and the processes to use when planning and implementing various types of change.

RiverRhee's course on Managing Change will do the same.  One-to-one coaching on this topic is also available.


Related Posts

RiverRhee At A Glance