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Progressing Through Change: Resources

The four stage design used in Progressing Through Change was developed from two established models of change management:

Resources for Change Management

Resources for Leading Change

The Progressing Through Change Definitions and Strategies

So you can have it all in one easy-to-print location, here is all the info on the four PTC stages:

The Denial Stage

Avoiding – Ignoring – Not Perceiving

Denial Defined:

Denial is the normal initial reaction to change. It is a natural defense mechanism: People refuse to acknowledge the existence of the coming change or the reasons for it. People try to protect the past and their comfort level by ignoring the change. It is often hard to recognize denial in yourself. Even those who welcome change will likely go through a period of denial as they adjust to the change. Denial is a healthy part of the change process because it minimizes anxiety and disruption during the early part of the change. However, denial can become destructive if people refuse to accept that change is necessary.

People in Denial:

  • Avoid the topic
  • Appear unconcerned
  • Will not take initiative
  • Act like nothing is happening

Denial Quotations:

  • “Yet another shake up – but nothing ever really changes”
  • “Change? What change? Looks like the same old, same old to me.”
  • “This change will blow over just like all the others.”
  • “They will change their minds and we’ll revert back in no time.”

Denial Strategies:

Listed below are a few strategies you can use to help move from the denial stage into the resistance stage.
  • Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. On the left side of the line, list all the dangers the change may hold for you. On the right side of the line, list all the opportunities it may hold for you.
  • Envision how things will look in five years and imagine what your role will be in that future.
  • Visit the resource section to learn more about progressing through the change process.

The Opposition Stage

Anger – Anxiety – Depression – Fear

Opposition Defined:

People in the opposition phase have acknowledged the change, but they haven’t “bought-in” yet. They are uncomfortable with the change and don’t know what is expected of them or how they are supposed to accomplish their goals. They would prefer to prevent the change from happening. An individual in opposition may actively resist change by arguing or passively resist by continuing to do things the old way. Individuals in this phase are still focused on what they will lose instead of what they will gain from the change. Opposition is a normal, important stage in progressing through change. It gives the individual an opportunity to vent and adjust to the change. Opposition should be actively engaged to reveal issues that must be addressed to successfully progress through the change.

People in Opposition:

  • Show anger
  • Complain and blame others
  • Become passive
  • Become exhausted and overwhelmed

Opposition Quotations:

  • “We would be better off the way things used to be.”
  • “They can’t think I’m going to do this on top of everything else I have.”
  • “This whole thing is a bad idea. It will not work.”
  • “If management hadn’t blown it three years ago, this never would have happened.”

Opposition Strategies:

Listed below are a few strategies you can use to help move from the opposition stage into the exploration phase.
  • Minimize your stress by focusing on the “Mastering” and “Letting Go” areas on the personal power grid shown below. List aspects of the change that you have control over and should master. Then list aspects of the change that you do not have control over and should let go.

Personal Power Grid

The personal power grid plots control against action. As shown in the grid, you should take action in areas where you have control (Mastering). You should not take any action in areas where you do not have control (Letting Go). By focusing on what you control and letting go of what you do not, you will not miss opportunities (Giving Up) or waste your time (Spinning Wheels).

  • Meet with your manager to discuss your concerns about the change and how your work will change.
  • Rather than affixing blame for the change, review all the information available and identify the forces that created the need for this change.
  • Visit the resource section to learn more about progressing through the change process.

The Exploration Stage

Learn New Ways – Discover Opportunities – Create Solutions

Exploration Defined:

In the exploration stage, people are taking some control back. They have accepted the change is necessary and are figuring out what needs to be done and how to do it. It is a period of investigation and innovation – finding better ways to accomplish new goals. Exploration is the fun stage. People become more collaborative and their enthusiasm and energy increase. Exploration is the growing stage. It gives individuals the opportunity to plan, learn, and discover how to make the change work for them. Individuals in exploration may have trouble staying focused. They must focus the energy generated in this stage to developing a change plan and moving into the commitment stage.

People in Exploration:

  • Experiment
  • Seek new ways
  • Envision possible futures
  • Generate lots of ideas

Exploration Quotations:

  • “We're on a rough stretch, but this change has great possibilities.”
  • “It’s about time we got ourselves back on course.”
  • “I’ve got some great ideas we finally can try out now.”
  • “I am learning so much that I never knew before.”

Exploration Strategies:

Listed below are a few strategies you can use to help move from the exploration stage into the commitment phase.
  • With your team or manager, brainstorm new ideas on how to accomplish more after the change. Then select the most promising ideas and investigate how they could be implemented.
  • Identify the new skills you will need to develop to succeed. Then use all the resources available to you to find the learning you need.
  • Meet with you manager to develop an individual performance and development plan.
  • Visit the resource section to learn more about progressing through the change process.

The Engagement Stage

Renewal – Focus – Realize Benefits

Engagement Defined:

In the engagement stage, people align themselves with the change and adopt behaviors to make the change work. Their new ways of doing things becomes their “normal” way of behaving. The individual has a sense of shared purpose and increased self-confidence. Individuals in the engagement stage should reward themselves for their progress through the change. You should not become too comfortable in the engagement stage. Another change is inevitable. You should reflect on the change process you just went through and note strategies that will help you through the next change.

People in Engagement:

  • Sense that they are in control
  • Are comfortable
  • Reflect on what they have learned
  • Start looking ahead to the next change

Engagement Quotations:

  • “We are primed to be very successful this year.”
  • “Things are working so much better since the re-organization.”
  • “I am getting a lot of great work done now.”
  • “We have come out of this change much better prepared for the next change.”

Engagement Strategies:

Listed below are a few strategies you can use to help move through the commitment stage and prepare for the next change.
  • Recognize the effort you have put forth to progress through the change and give yourself a reward.
  • Recognize the effort your friends and co-workers have put forth to support the change by sending them a note.
  • Meet with your manager to review your work plan to make sure it accurately reflects your performance and development objectives.
  • Look ahead to possible future changes and envision how you might prepare for and respond to those changes.


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