Survival Tactics For Managing Change In Your Organisation

I recently completed a course with the Chartered Management Institute through Morgan McKinley on Effective Leadership and have to say it’s been a great course for equipping me with a toolbox of skills for effective management.

During the course, we covered a number of modules including Dynamic Team Leadership which concentrated predominantly on managing change in an organisation. As most managers will know, implementing change in your organisation can be very tricky and it needs to be managed in a way that the changes are adopted by your employees while also keeping your people engaged. 

As Clarence Darrow once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.”

What I found interesting about this module was that although I had implemented many changes over the years and hoped for the best, there are many stages that an individual goes through before they arrive at the acceptance stage of any change. See Conners Transition Curve below which outlines the impact of change:

Survival Tactics For Managing Change In Your Organisation

As you can see, this curve visibly shows the rollercoaster that individuals go through during a change and the following list outlines further the impact to the individual during each stage.

The Impact of Change:

  • The initial situation preceding the announcement of the change is neutral & represents the status quo.
  • Immobilisation - they are feeling a little out of control.
  • Denial - the change is rejected or people try and ignore it.
  • Anger/Hurt/Frustration - This is the result of shock, as those facing unwanted change are disorientated and confused. Needless to say productivity drops at this stage. 
  • Bargaining - this is the stage when individuals realise that the change cannot be avoided, so they start to minimise the negative impact. This is the start of acceptance of the change. 
  • Depression - individuals may feel a sense of resignation, possibly helplessness in the face of the change. This can lead to low levels of energy and disinterest in the job. Emotionally, this phase is where the full negative impact of the change is recognised and accepted and this helps the process of moving on. 
  • Regaining control - comes through testing & acknowledging the new way of working, while pushing the boundaries of what is allowed – leading to the discovery of how to be successful under the new regime. 
  • Acceptance - this doesn’t necessarily mean that individuals like the situation but they accept and start to settle into a new form of normality.


In addition to understanding the phases an individual goes through during change, it’s also worthwhile acknowledging the Typical Barriers to Change so that you can overcome obstacles/objections along the way:

  • Too stable - people are happy with the status quo
  • Technology - do you have the technology to support the change?
  • Systems/bureaucracy - will your current processes align with the change process?
  • Too successful - if you are successful doing things a certain way, why would you   change?
  • Failure in the past - similar changes were made unsuccessfully in the past
  • Fear - what happens if the change has a negative effect?
  • Lack of understanding - why do we need to change?
  • Insecurity - can we cope with this change
  • Comfort zone - we are comfortable the way we are.


During this module, a number of my colleagues (in our management group) and I carried out a very worthwhile exercise whereby we had to communicate a change within our organisation to our subordinates (who by the way, were also managers… and well able to challenge us on this new change!). The biggest learnings from this exercise were that some of the individuals reached the acceptance stage sooner than others; we misjudged questions as resistance to the change and we also underestimated our colleagues’ ability to accept and understand the change as well as they did.

Following on from this module and exercise, I subsequently implemented a systems and process change with my own team far more effectively than changes implemented previously as a result. 

For anyone managing change in their organisation, I would recommend following Kotter’s 8 Step Model for Change to enable successful implementation and to achieve greater “buy-in” from your team.

Kotter’s 8 Step Model for Change: 

  • Establish a sense of urgency 
  • Form a powerful guiding coalition (Team) 
  • Create a vision (Believe) 
  • Communicate that vision. 
  • Empower others to act (Delegate) 
  • Create short-term wins (Influence) 
  • Consolidate improvements 
  • Don’t let up! 
  • Make change stick!


So, I’ve gone through the stages of change and given some tips on managing any change in an organisation, is it time for you to look at a career change? Why not contact my team for a confidential discussion?

Gerald FitzGerald's picture
Chief Operations Officer Ireland