Part of life is that things move on and change. It’s natural that we grieve and even mourn what we had ‘before’.
Great examples are the social media groups that post pictures of their local town in its heyday, or ‘yesteryear’. Residents find it fascinating – and many responses are full of golden memories. All good stuff! However, a large proportion of the residents’ comments may often lament the passing of ‘better days’.
The average person looks back at the past through the rose-tinted lens of nostalgia, and wistful memories are an indulgence we afford ourselves about many past experiences, events, situations – and of course, people.
However, when it comes to the changes we experience in our businesses, we can (and should!) be a little more rational. Bemoaning a perceived better time or circumstance is usually a fruitless waste of time and energy, unless lessons from the past can be usefully deployed and replicated in a contemporary way.
“Before the take-over, we would always be…” “When Jane was in charge, this would never…” “This new system is not as good as the old one…”
THE CHANGE CURVE
Enter the Kübler-Ross Change Curve (also known as the Five Stages of Grief). It is useful for business owners to recognise where they are in the change curve but also, to understand the natural and predictable reactions of their teams. This can be particularly important when the change is ‘enforced’ or is an emergency reaction, as has been experienced during 2020.
The five main stages are:
“This won’t affect us. It’ll all disappear by Christmas! Heads down – carry on!”
“I KNEW this would happen! It’s all their fault” (or: “I should have done something sooner!”)
“The government is going to have to sort this out. Our employees will just need to work harder this year.”
“What’s the point – it’s all going to go wrong anyway.”
“OK enough wallowing! I see a few things we can do here. Perhaps this was a good thing…”
Remember that owners and employees alike will experience these stages at different times and with different intensities. The important thing is to understand the inevitability of these effects – and that, during any business change, the grieving process is ultimately a positive thing.
The culmination of these stages is the full adoption of new practices and habits: the ‘new normal’ becomes the accepted practice with commitment and willing implementation throughout the organisation.
So tune up the empathy, understand the process, support the Change Curve stages, and perhaps reflect on how to make life as good as it always seemed to be ‘back in the day’… as this is a unique time for business owners to really change the way they do things and perhaps place less store on the old business adage ‘survival of the fittest’ and more on ‘survival of the wisest’.