Elisabeth Kubler Ross Change Curve | Kubler Rose Stages Of Grief
The Kubler Ross Change Curve
Kubler-Ross Change Curve was developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist who detailed the first five stages of grief in her book On Death and Dying in 1969. The Kubler Ross Change curve model details the five stages people go through during grief, reflecting the emotions triggered during change.
These five stages were meant to outline the emotional journey that an individual takes once they are dealing with change or losing something significant in their lives.
The five stages of grief are; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s five-stage change cycle was intended to help people deal with bereavement or death but has since been adapted to reflect the stages of any major change event, including those at work.
Over the years, these five stages have been applied to many different situations, including organizational change management.
With respect to organizational change management over time, the five stages of grief have been extrapolated into a seven-stage change curve, typically represented with a visual curve that outlines each of the phases in a sequence. The Kubler Ross stages of grief includes;
- Shock/Surprise Stage
- Denial/Disbelief Stage
- Frustration/ Anger stage
- Depression Stage
Kubler Ross Change Stages Curve
The sequence that the stages that appear on the curve are the ones that individuals most commonly follow.
However, the Kubler-Ross model does not define that all of these stages must, in fact, be followed in sequence, nor do they outline how long an individual needs to stay in each of the stages.
There are instances where individuals will move through the changes in a different order. They may even revert backward in a change and not continue forward movement but loop through something once or twice.
Kubler Ross Stages of Grief/Changes
Kubler Ross Shock Stage
This is what an individual first learns about a change, so when they’re hearing it for the first time and trying to process it internally.
The shock stage is something that you want to try to minimize as far as time goes, and to do that, and it’s best to first articulate your change clearly and concisely without using anything too complicated or too in-depth.
Whether in the shock stage, many individuals aren’t processing all of the information coming through to them. They’re just going to look a part of it.
You want to make sure that you’re not diving too deep into the weeds on these first communications, or it may just confuse them.
Kubler Ross Denial Stage
When someone has left the shock stage, they most typically go into denial where they simply don’t believe the change will happen or that the transformation is about to take place.
So their denial may be focused on the entire transformation as a whole and having it not apply to the organization, or it may be individual.
They may think that even if the change does occur, it’s not going to impact them.
The denial phase is another one where you want to continue with your communication. You want to make sure that you clearly articulate who the change applies to what the change will be and when we’re looking at the change happening, and why it will occur.
This component is critical so that people start to understand what it is and can focus their attention on processing the information.
Kubler Ross Frustration Stage
Following the denial phase, most individuals will flow into frustration. The frustration phase in the seven-stage model was developed off the original anger stage in the five stages.
The adaptive model has taken some of the components from bargaining and some things from anger and put them together in this frustration phase.
In the frustration phase, you will start to see some decreased productivity and individuals, a lot more verbalization while questioning what the change is about why we have to do it. Some push back maybe on certain components of the change as well individuals may start to look at just certain components of the change to see if there’s a way that they can apply some.
Your productivity will be decreased during this phase, and there’s going to be increased chatter in and amongst the stakeholders and impacted individuals.
You might use an informal community to establish an open and honest dialogue about the change. Sometimes when people emotional, they need to be listened to.
Maybe we don’t need to have a solid plan and the outcomes from those sessions. Sometimes it’s just about being an ear for them to listen.
When people are frustrated, we don’t tell them to settle down or that it’s not that bad, or so on and so forth. Instead, do communicators openly as possible about everything that you know on can share.
Acknowledging that rumors made that they may be hearing and giving them possible or likely timelines for future organizational changes.
At this stage, leaders often make the mistake of holding back information to protect their people, and often it’s the opposite that is needed.
The frustration phase will last a different period of time for all individuals, some will migrate through earlier, and some people will stay in their long coming out of frustration.
Most individuals that are following this curve tend to head into depression.
Kubler Ross Depression stage
The Depression stage is where they recognize that the change will happen, that the transformation is inevitable, and there truly starting to feel these senses of loss for the way that things used to be done.
They are not quite ready to embrace things and are mourning, a grieving. They have realized that it has to happen and there has to be something different and that the way things were always done. They’re not very happy about this Depression stage.
Have a feedback area next to the statements and let employees poke holes in them.
When people are in denial, don’t spend a lot of time reassuring people that everything will be okay but create concrete alignment, make current goals and tireless timelines, and job responsibilities for all current projects. People do like to know where they stand.
This is where the productivity in relation to the change is the lowest.
For an individual, this doesn’t mean that their productivity overall is low. It just means that the amount of effort they’re dedicating to this transformation is lower than you maybe want to be again.
Similar to this frustration, this depression stage is variable for all individuals. Some people stay in it longer than others. Some people skip right through it very quickly.
Understand what is holding people back from trying new practices. Motivation isn’t everything as sometimes people need to develop the capability first.
But look for what motivates different people because note that what works for one doesn’t always work for other people. When people are in depression, don’t push performance feedback or dismiss the feeling.
Do, however, invoke empathy and focus on immediate motivation. Work to create small winds to assure the person that their presence has value on show your optimism that things will be okay.
What you’ll find in the Depression stage is lifting people through both frustration and depression is easier if you can leverage the groups that are in the further stages to communicate backward throughout this entire process.
You want to make sure your communication is robust and have an open path should they have any questions.
Kubler Ross Experiment phase
Coming out of the depression, we start to go into the experiment phase. Again, they recognized that the change will happen, that they have some role to play in it, and they’re starting to learn a little bit more about it.
What exactly does it mean? How exactly is this going to impact my day today? And what is it that I have to focus my attention on?
You’ll start to see some productivity increases in this phase. You may start to see some glimmers of excitement, but you will see people start to move their way through the activities and participate in things that need to be done.
The experiment stage can be quite exciting and can be used to leverage those still lagging in the depression or frustration phase.
This is the stage when we deliberately give some slack time to let people practice new skills. We look for innovation and collaboration, and that doesn’t happen by chance. You need to act as a change agent or a manager to enable it.
When we’re in this experimental stage, don’t back off thinking that the worst is over or focus too much time on other people. Maximize on performance feedback and enhance coaching element, both positive and critical feedback, and move quickly into getting into productive work.
Kubler Ross Decision Stage
Once people work their way through the experiment stage, they’re going to come to a point where they reach a decision. So that decision is going to be an acceptance of sorts.
They understand that the changes are happening and why the changes are happening.
They again may not love it, but they’re going to move forward with it, and they’re going to commit to making it happen.
The more people you can get to the decision stage, the earliest, the better chance you have of actually moving your change forward.
You want to make sure you’re assisting people through those earlier stages and that you’re taking advantage of the excitement that they started to generate in the experiment phase and the commitment that happens in the decision phase.
Get teams together to share their stories. You do not want to be dependent on you yourself, coaching or consulting.
Get people working together and collaborating, so encouraging Teams to learn from each other.
Kubler Ross Integration Phase
The last and final step in the modified change curve by Kubler Ross is integration.
The integration phase of Kubler Rose Curve is where most of your organization or your impacted team members come together and work to incorporate the change into their day-to-day lives.
This is reached once the individual realizes that the changes permanent, then integration could take place on the individuals, and groups of people are renewed.
Kubler Ross warns that people don’t move through the stages in a well-ordered sequential manner like this. Depending on the communication levels, they may stall at a particular stage or even regress to a previous stage.
This again is something that people are going to reach varying stages. If it is a significant transformation that impacts the way daily work happens on a unit, you want to try to make sure you can coordinate this activity throughout.
Again, pay attention to where people fall on this change curve to not end up with people in the integration phase butting heads against people who are still in their frustration and denial phase.
Try to keep track of everyone as they move through and understand that there is some fluidity with how people go through this change curve, but throughout the entire process, you again want to make sure that your communication is strong.
The Kubler Ross change curve isn’t meant to be a step-by-step process to follow, but it is meant to be a change model that’s layered on top of your project management activities and something you keep in mind when you’re drafting your communication to your team members.
Importance of Kubler Rose Curve of Grieve
Kubler Ross’s Change cycle and how it can help us manage performance issues, particularly through any period of significant change.
The technological advances that now take place so quickly threaten the future of business and employment as we know it and managers need to get good at managing the change process. This model can help.
Criticism of Elisabeth Kubler Ross Stages of Grief
- This Kübler-Ross stage of grief model’s main criticisms is mainly based on a lack of empirical research and empirical evidence supporting the stages. Moreover, Kübler-Ross’ model is the product of a particular culture at a particular time and might not apply to people of other cultures.
- The existence of these stages as such has not been demonstrated.
- No evidence has been presented that people actually do move from Stage 1 through Stage 5.
- There is no clear line from one stage to another.
- The resources, pressures, and characteristics of the immediate environment, which can make a tremendous difference, are not taken into account.