• Yasmin Hurst

Understanding Emotion in the Midst of Change

The transformation process is not an event. It’s a mental, physical and emotional process. Treat it likewise.

Our senses are stimulated by the information around us, processing information in the context of a particular set of circumstances or a situation, is personal to each and every one of us. The way in which we relate information to our own situation will define its meaning to us and our emotional response.

When you think about the response to change in this way, you begin to understand the challenge leaders face in maintaining a happy workforce. There is no ‘one size fits all’ our understanding, reactions and needs are personal.

Every Change Has a Cost

Every change has a cost and one of those costs will be the impact of emotion in the organisation. Realising, recognising and acknowledging people’s emotions will go a long way towards helping them accept it.

It is often the case that enthusiasm will come from the minority, those who have championed the change or can clearly see a benefit for themselves. For most, the process will start with a feeling of confusion.

Change Takes People Somewhere New

Change takes people somewhere new; it is natural to feel afraid or to feel a sense of loss when you have loved the way things were, it can leave people very confused until they are able to figure out and adjust to what the new reality will be after the change.

When we Lack Understanding our Emotions Escalate

When we lack understanding our emotions escalate, we may feel sad or lonely. Without recognition and a process of developing understanding, emotions will inevitably turn to anger.

Don’t Limit Emotion

With leadership comes emotion. Recognising and planning for the emotional response to a change will have a cost, but this is far outweighed by the benefits it can bring in terms of acceptance, well-being and productivity. Change is hard either way, investing time to communicate at every level will develop understanding on a more personal level. It would be impossible to make everyone happy, but as leaders we have a responsibility to provide understanding, listen and communicate clearly.

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