All this CHANGE is stressin’ me out, Doc!!!

Tonight we watched the video “Managing Change and Transition,” featuring Dr. Ben Bissell and his guidance on the physical and emotional toll of change.  He explained the two categories of a so-called Significant Emotional Event (SEE):

  • Professional, such as a reorganization, layoffs, relocation, or
  • Personal, such as marriage, the birth of a child, illness, loss, divorce

Upon experiencing a SEE everyone will go through five stages:

  • Shock or denial—the “I can’t believe it” phase
  • Emotional reaction—predominantly anger
  • A bargaining period—the change is sinking in but you are trying to alter its effects
  • Depression (clinically known as “grief”) because all change produces loss and all loss must be grieved
  • Acceptance, both emotional and intellectual, of the change

On average, one should expect it to take up to 1 1/2 years to work through these five stages.

Dr. Bissell shared the four signs of trouble that could have life-threatening implications:

  1. troublesome body part,
  2. short breathing,
  3. faster eating pace, or
  4. poor sleeping pattern

So, to stave off this outcome, it is vital for organizations to recognize that employees need to “go through” the stages without, however, sacrificing job performance.

Some other insights from the video include:

  • employees will mirror the behaviors of their managers
  • all low morale is really unresolved anger
  • information is minimized and perceptions get distorted during a SEE
  • an organization should keep as much of the familiar as possible during a SEE

I found this interesting graphic that shows what happens next after people move through the five stages … with the goal of moving on to new beginnings. In any case, “moving through” is important!


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