It rained in Portland recently. I’m sure that comes as no big surprise to those of you who live here or have heard that it rains in Portland all the time. The truth is – it doesn’t rain all the time. In fact, it only rains about 154 days a year (I looked it up). The thing is, when summer starts on the 4th of July, it often doesn’t rain much for a while and this summer was a particularly dry one. So for two months this summer, we all pretended like we were living in California. And then, one weekday morning in September it rained hard for about an hour. And you know what happened? Nothing. Everything came to a screeching halt. For about an hour and a half, it seemed like one of those disaster movies where everyone is trying to evacuate and no one can get anywhere.
This is what happens under change. One day, we’re going along as if we all live in sunny California and the next thing you know we are in “the dip,” stuck in a traffic jam, sweating and swearing, wondering when life will go back to normal. What’s the dip? The dip is a powerful model used to understand the stages of personal transition and change. It can help us predict how people will react to change, so that we can help them through it more easily.
Change doesn’t have to be big to affect us – it can be anything from moving the reception area furniture to forgetting to bring clean socks to the gym and choosing to go sockless for the rest of the day. Even those changes we want can be frustrating and awkward for a while. Sure, my rainy traffic jam didn’t create a long term dip but it did put a damper on my morning. Think about a change you or your team may be going through and take a look at the change curve. Where would you place yourself in the Dip? If you just heard about the change you might still be happily engaged in denial. If it’s been a while, you may be feeling frustration or maybe you’re ready to experiment with the new idea.
You just got reassigned to a new office. You’re in the dip, what now? Lots of things. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Do you believe this change is the right thing to do?
- Do you understand the business goals are you are excited (or at least curious) to play a part in achieving them?
- Do you feel like the right level of preparation and planning has gone into this change?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions, it may be time to get a little more information – from someone who can actually help and that’s probably not your co-worker. Talk to your boss. Yeah, him or her – I said it and yes, it might feel awkward for a moment. Express your concerns, seek some guidance, or maybe even offer to help with the change. It tends to be easier to accept and move through change when we have more information and play a part in making it happen.
If you’re the boss – HELP! Focus on giving or receiving mental, physical and emotional support. This can help many people move through the dip more quickly. Remember to take care of the essentials of wellbeing and encourage your team to do the same: exercise, eat well, and get plenty of sleep. At home, talk to a partner or loved one. Need more? Breathe deep and check out last month’s blog for more tips.