The emotional roller coaster (of change management programs)

Lesson Learned #50

carpedia-lessons-learned-50During a change program, everyone goes through a real emotional roller coaster. You tend to be a little overly optimistic at the front end. when the program is being hyped and people are excited. Then your emotions take somewhat of a nosedive as you discover it’s tougher than you thought to change. And finally your spirits rebound as things actually start to improve – that is, if you have a good game plan and have both the courage and conviction to stick with it. We’ve learned over many years of implementing changes that to be successful you really do need courage and you really do need to commit to making it work. Every change program has its hiccups, and it’s very easy to go back to the way things were. It takes genuine courage to give change a chance to work. It helps if you have lived through the change cycle a few times. because it gives you the confidence to know that things will get better. It also takes time to allow any new process or pattern of behavior to become habitual.

Two guidelines that we find quite helpful when navigating through a change program are: (1) Try to keep people from getting unrealistically optimistic or pessimistic as you go through the inevitable ups and downs; (2) Move with speed to limit the duration of the cycle. Change can be exciting and invigorating, but it requires careful management of people’s emotions and expectations