Breath of Clarity

Stages of Change

Original Post

Before the change, a leader can lessen anxiety and speed up acceptance by having a good reason for making the change and ensuring it supports the organization’s goals (Manning 2014). It can also be useful to put a respected person, who is trusted by all, in change of coordinating the change (Manning 2014). The figure below depicts the stages that people go through emotionally when a change occurs.

My interpretation is that the amount of time spent in each stage is temporary and varies depending on the needs of the employees. Change often means loss- loss of security, confidence, relationships, direction, or possessions (Manning 2014). Healthy coping means dealing with loss realistically and letting go of what must be given up in order to move on (Manning 2014). A leader can implement strategy to lessen anxiety and speed up acceptance of change. The figure below explains what a leader can do to decrease amount of time in each stage.

It is crucial for a leader to be empathetic over the course of change. In his TedTalk (n.d.), Jason Clarke dives into how to best support employees who are in the resistance stage. He mentioned people resist change because they are 1) too full of emotion and fear to think about what you’re talking about 2) scared of the transition journey, not the idea 3) do not understand how big of a deal the change actually is 4) feel as though they don’t think have a say in what happens and /or 5) are fed up with phony change and want the real thing. To combat #1, he recommends holding space for the negative, interesting and positive perception of the change. In order to combat #2, he would highlight what’s going well now and acknowledge that its continuation is uncertain, unproven, or freaky. Further, to address #3, he would bring to surface all that is between where we are now and where we’re hoping to be so that the employees can have a specific understanding of the situation. To be upfront, lessen the anxiety and speed up acceptance, he recommended that a leader gives people the heads up of what’s about to happen in between where we are now and where we’re going to be. As part of that, he suggested bringing up the long list of things that are not going to change. It is also a great opportunity to highlight what the team was not able to do before and can do with the change. To address #4, it is important to empower employees to take control of the change by taking ownership about how the team is going to get to where they want to be. Here, it is useful for the leader to encourage the employees that they are going to make it work and, if needed, support them in determining how to do so. Finally, to overcome #5, Clarke suggested establishing a sense of purpose. From there, outline ways to change how the employee is contributing to the purpose so that the change directly impacts them.


Clarke, Jason. Year (n.d.) “Embracing Change.” TEDxPerth. YouTube. Dec. 22, 2010. Video, 18:03.

Manning, George. 2014. The Art of Leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill

Comment by Professor Robert Gnuse:

Mary, excellent post. Good examples and use of source materials. As mentioned, the time in each stage does depend on the needs of the employees but no matter what they may be, certain preemptive planning facets can be utilized.

Comment by Lisa Neuberger:

Hi Mary,

Great post!

For me, having a leader explain what’s going to happen between the start of the change and the end is the best way to get me to accept a change. I want to know what to expect. And while I don’t mind change — especially when it’s a good change — I detest change just for the sake of change, which is what I think Clarke is means with his stage #5. Phony change will always be worse than no change at all. Are there any of Clarke’s suggestions that particularly help you with change?

Comment by Oscar Vasquez:


I like how you added the pictures to your post! A great use of your resources and helped break it down the stages! I would like to add that I see change as a good thing whether its good or bad. We are in a changing world and we need to be able to keep up with the changes we have today. Overall great post and vert informative thank you!

Comment by Erin Ahlholm:


Awesome post this week!

I really like how you condensed all the information provided by Clarke regarding his approach to supporting employees through change. Change is not always easy, and having the knowledge of how to guide people through it is an incredible skill that can be transferred to any industry.