Change is not a static process. It is, in fact, a cycle. Change can occur quickly or slowly. The latter gives team members more time to acclimate to what is coming down the road. Sudden or rapid change can throw people for a loop and jumpstart the cycle of change model.

Flexibility is the name of the game in the world today, both personally and professionally. One thing that you can always count on is that things will never stay the same. Realizing that has its benefits. One, you are more amenable to the process, thereby producing resilience. But, first, you must understand what the stages of change are, so you may learn to map out a plan for as many eventualities as possible.

The 4 Stages of Change

The diagram of the change cycle consists of four quadrants:

  • Stability
  • Change
  • Instability
  • Rebalancing


Each stage involves both external and internal changes. Internal changes are mostly emotional and they will be represented by certain key words. Let’s begin with Stability. The stability quadrant is governed by the keywords Order and Hope. When things are orderly, we feel in control, committed to current processes, enthusiastic about our job and retain a sense of purpose that we are contributing positively to the company’s objectives.

The next quadrant is Change. Something has changed either internally or externally. What was once Order is now being tossed in the air for something unknown in your current environment. This can lead to Despair. Team members experience denial that a change is taking place, disappointment that something that works is being abandoned, disillusionment that the change is even being considered and a sense of loss that what they thought was a stable foundation is now shaking.

Just when you thought the reactions couldn’t get worse, we shift to the third quadrant, Instability. The keywords here are Despair and Chaos. The new process is moving in with all its kinks and bugs while the old process is being dismantled. Responses range from confusion about the new process, anger because they are unsure of what will occur, next to self-protection displayed by complaining with others and resistance involving sabotage of the new system.

Then, the storm clouds begin to move on as you enter the last quadrant of the change cycle, Rebalancing. The keywords here are Hope and Chaos. As the chaos begins to turn into a more organized system, team members start to realize the possibilities that are available now. Education gives way to comfort as they rediscover their place. Team members refocus on new goals that can move the company forward. Replanning involves finding out innovative ways to implement the process. Finally, redirecting energy brings renewed purpose in the part you play in the company.

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