Kuber-Ross Change curve

Change is change, for some, it is challenging, for others it’s an opportunity. When dealing with change which is difficult it can often be helpful to understand some of the stages we may go through and this is where the Kuber-Ross Change curve is useful.

The Kuber-Ross Change curve shows 7 stages starting with the initial shock of the change. This is followed by the denial that the change happened, followed by frustration and an altered mood. These stages of change are often negative or have negative feelings attached.

After these initial stages, things start to improve. First, the Kuber-Ross Change curve states that we start to experiment and try to engage in the new situation. Later we start to feel more positive about the change and eventually we accept the change and can function well again.

One situation where this is useful in a leadership role is when introducing a change within the work environment. Perhaps the team has been re-structured or perhaps a project which people had been working on had to be deprioritised. Here, having awareness of how people and teams process change can help you as a leader empathises with what others are going through and what emotions they are processing. This in turn helps you know where and how you can provide support.

Another example where the Kuber-Ross Change curve is useful is if you are going through change yourself. Perhaps you have been made redundant, perhaps the project you have been working on for a long time has just been cancelled, or perhaps there is a change in your personal life you are dealing with. Understanding the Kuber-Ross Change curve can help you understand that those negative emotions are ‘normal’ and also provide assurance that things will improve with time.

Recently a friend was trying to support a family member who had suffered a death of a close relative. My friend was unable to relate to his family members’ emotional state and wasn’t sure how he could support them. I showed him the Kuber-Ross Change curve which enabled him to provide some support through each of the states but also gave my friend the comfort of knowing eventually things would be ok.

Read more about the Kuber-Ross Change curve.