In Jerald Jellison’s book, “Managing the Dynamics Of Change” he shows us how people undergo a five stage process of change by using the J Curve principle:
Stage 1: The Plateau
Stage 2: The Cliff
Stage 3: The Valley
Stage 4: The Ascent
Stage 5: The Mountaintop
The J curve provides an understanding of the human dimensions of change. The letter J approximates the path that most major change follows. If you understand where your company is on this path of change you can help team members and coworkers handle change more smoothly and quickly because you understand what they are thinking and feeling. This makes you a stronger and more productive leader. You become a wise participant-observer who deftly nudges your team along towards productive change.
Change is about what happens to performance over time. Whether it is your whole business or a specific unit or team of your business the arc of change normally follows the J curve pattern.
In Stage 1 of Change, The Plateau, team members will be made aware that change is inevitable and you are expecting their participation. You can expect discontent and anguish during this time. Everyone is uncomfortably anticipating the proposed change that has not begun!
Stage 2 of Change, The Cliff, is where change has begun and everyone starts to what they had been anticipating and is the place where productivity drops. Many are saying “I told you so”. Some team members start attempting to go back to the old way of doing things. The stress level seems almost too much to take.
The cliff stage is where it is vital for you as the leader to acknowledge what is being experienced and encourage your team to hold to the changes!
In Stage 3 of Change, The Valley, team members begin to notice that job performance decline is not as rapid. The changes are still occurring, but everyone is beginning to adapt. It is in this stage that team members begin to understand the new programs you’ve initiated and most importantly realize that the change is really coming easier, morale is improving and the team is beginning to work together toward the common goal.
The Valley stage is where it is vital that you as the leader praise your team.
Stage 4 of Change, The Ascent, is when you and your team members begin to experience the pay off. There is a change for the better. Everyone begins to positively experience the successes of the changes you have implemented. The best part of this stage is when the team members begin to promote the changes themselves. Now is when you as leader recognize your team’s success for working together achieving these changes.
Stage 5 of Change, The Mountaintop, is when you have successfully implemented . In Stage 5 the team members will begin to experiment with their own successes and be willing to stretch their imaginations for new ways to make the changes even more effective!