The change curve

Accelerating change

The Change Curve model describes the four stages most people go through as they adjust to change.

The Change Curve model describes the four stages most people go through as they adjust to change. - See more at:


Stage 1

At this stage, people may be in shock or denial. Even if the change has been well planned and they understand what is happening, this is when the reality of the change hits, and people need to take time to adjust. Here, people need information, need to understand what is happening, and need to know how to get help.

This is a critical stage for communication. Make sure you communicate often, but don't overwhelm people - they'll only be able to take in a limited amount of information at a time. Make sure that people know where to go for more information if they need it, and ensure that you take the time to answer any questions that come up.

Stage 2

As people start to react to the change, they may start to feel concern, anger, resentment or fear. They may resist the change actively or passively. They may feel the need to express their feelings and concerns, and vent their anger.

For the organization, this stage is the "danger zone." If this stage is badly managed, the organisation may descend into crisis or chaos.

So this stage needs careful planning and preparation. As someone responsible for change, you should prepare for this stage by carefully considering the impacts and objections that people may have.

Make sure that you address these early with clear communication and support, and by taking action to minimise and mitigate the problems that people will experience. As the reaction to change is very personal and can be emotional, it is often impossible to pre-empt all of them, so make sure that you listen and watch carefully during this stage (or have mechanisms to help you do this) so that you can respond to the unexpected.

Stage 3

This is the turning point for individuals and for the organisation. Once you turn the corner to stage 3, the organisation starts to come out of the danger zone, and is on the way to making a success of the changes.

As people's acceptance grows, they'll need to test and explore what the change means. They will do this more easily if they are helped and supported, even if this is a simple matter of allowing enough time for them to do so.

As the person managing the changes, you can lay good foundations for this stage by making sure that people are well trained and are given early opportunities to experience what the changes will bring. Be aware that this stage is vital for learning and acceptance and that it takes time. Don't expect people to be 100 percent productive during this time and build in contingency time so that people can learn and explore without too much pressure.

Stage 4

This stage is the one you have been waiting for! This is where the changes start to become second nature and people embrace the improvements to the way they work.

As someone managing the change, you'll finally start to see the benefits you worked so hard for. Your team or organisation starts to become productive and efficient and the positive effects of change become apparent.


  • Establish where you position yourself on the change curve. Define how to move forward.
  • Establish where your staff are on the change curve and help them to move forward.