Mike Hourigan, Change Management Speaker
Anger to Change is not a Good Look
As a change management speaker and change management consultant, I realize there are no end to theories about how individuals in a company react to change. Jennifer Herrity writing for Indeed.com (September 15, 2021) listed many of these models, all championed by psychologists, management consultants, business schools and the like. However, in speaking to groups on change management, in real time and under actual, not theoretical conditions, most theories seem to leave out an important result of change: Anger.
“When you start to have negative feelings about a change, remind yourself that this emotional reaction didn’t just appear out of nowhere; it’s a result of your interpretations.” – Mike Murphy, Business Writer, Forbes
There in an old “model” of change that is still as true today as ever; the F.I.R.E. model. The initials stand for “Facts,” “Interpretation,” “Reaction” and desired “Ends.” This model most echoes what is happening in the present day.
People have turned angry and often, they seek anger as a refuge. When change sweeps over a company it is almost as though workers need someone to serve as the object of their anger. It may the CEO who had no choice, the HR director who broke the news, the Chair of the Board who endorsed the change or someone much further down the line who was directed to put in new software or equipment or a corporate name change.
Get mad at the change, not at me
In that “F.I.R.E. model,” some employees take incomplete facts, which lead to false interpretations, causing immediate reaction instead of thoughtful response and it invariably leads to the conclusions that shouldn’t be entertained.
The overriding emotion that comes out of the process is anger and it is always damaging to the organization undergoing change. Why does this happen? Because all of the anger leads to fear and when employees fear change, what they really fear is what the change will do to them.
Fearful employees want to lash out at safe targets, such as a department head or the department that brings bad news.
Bottom line is that employees might get mad at the change, but they shouldn’t take it out on those who were powerless to stop it.
Communication is key
As a change management speaker and change management consultant, I want to make it clear that there is one key word that can stop the anger of change caused by the “F.I.R.E. model,” and that is transparent communication.
The communication must be logical, it must be understandable and it must be repeated. If the information makes no sense or if it sounds like double-talk, it won’t help the situation. Once a clear message is established, it needs to be stated and re-stated.
Unfortunately, information from the top often requires interpretation and allows some employees to jump to conclusions. Communication during periods of change should empower people. Isn’t that a given you might say? No, not always. Change is people; valued employees who will take the organization where it needs to go.
Please don’t let anger keep your company from changing for the better.
To contact Mike Hourigan, Change Management Keynote Speaker, for an in-person or virtual presentation, please call. Contact Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.