Stage One: Denial

This stage is characterized by feelings of numbness and disbelief. People tend to focus on the way things were. Managers can help by:

  • Giving employees time to let the effect of the change sink in
  • Building awareness about the change:
    • Clear, accurate, frequent communication
    • Face-to-face communication whenever possible
  • Making realistic expectations about job performance; productivity may be affected until employees adjust to the change.

Stage Two: Endings

This stage is characterized by anger, depression, grief and feelings of loss. Managers can help by:

  • Being open and willing to listen; you don’t have to “fix” anything
  • Giving employees permission to vent negative feelings
  • Creating opportunities for employees to say goodbye to the old ways.

Stage Three: Neutral Zone

Questioning, searching, challenging and creating characterize this stage. Managers can help by:

  • Giving employees a “map” and a sense of direction about what they can expect, as well as how they might respond most effectively to new challenges
  • Allowing time for exploration and questioning
  • Creating common experiences for employees to participate in the decision-making process to regain their sense of control, commitment, connections and challenge.

Stage Four: New Beginnings

This stage is characterized by new beginnings and a focus on action plans and team building. Managers can help by:

  • Keeping promises
  • Keeping communication lines open
  • Keeping employees involved in decision-making.