The Power of the Stage of Change Model

The Power of the Stage of Change Model
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If there’s one critical aspect of change you should never neglect, it’s the people responsible for driving it.

Organizations implement change with specific benefits in mind, but occasionally fail to promote said benefits. It’s important for staff to understand why change is being encouraged, how they will benefit, and for their needs to be considered at every level.

The stage of change model is centered on empathetic understanding, and can be applied to better understand how employees emotionally adapt to new concepts. The stage of change model appreciates where people are coming from, and caters to the individual needs of workers.

It is based on behavioral change, and extends beyond analyzing specific dimensions. It instead evaluates the bigger picture, integrating the key components of various constructs.

This helps provide a comprehensive view of change, which can be applied to multiple business scenarios.

Before we get to the model itself, why not check out one of these cool techniques first!

Stage of Change Model

There is reason to believe people go through various stages when modifying their behavior. They adopt principles to manage resistance, prevent relapse, and ultimately progress.

Because few individuals are willing to take action at any given stage, usually some guidance is given to increase participation throughout the change process.

The stage of change model is the first of its kind to represent time, rather than analyzing change as a process. This process unfolds with time, and doesn’t involve a linear progression through the associated steps.

How often have you been in the process of changing something and reverted back?

By applying the model in work contexts, you’ll be better equipped to change the behavioral mindset of you team. They will thus be motivated and excited by change, rather than rejecting it through a fear of the unknown.

The stage of change model is broken down into various components, with each level describing the emotions behind our procedural transition. These are as follows:

Precontemplation

During this stage, the thought of implementing change hasn’t even crossed the mind of those responsible for it. This of course depends on who you’re analyzing. Leaders might have contemplated change, but when its introduced to staff they dismiss it entirely.

People in this stage will fail to see any problems with the status quo, and will thus reject the possibility of change in the foreseeable future. This is usually the result of being ill-informed, where staff are unaware of how their actions contribute to the bigger picture.

Employees will remain stuck in this stage when previous attempts to change have failed, because they’ll be easily demoralized by the potential impact.

People in this stage might be referred to as resisters, demotivated, or simply unwilling to embrace help. The reality is, people aren’t always conditioned to meet the evolving needs of modern programs.

Contemplation

By this point, staff are starting to accept change, and embrace the potential for positive impact. Regardless of how the penny drops, whether employees observe statistics or are finally encouraged by change champions, staff are finally willing to accept change.

Individuals in this stage will weigh up the pros and cons, but their inability to make a well-informed decision can leave people stuck in this stage for a long time. If you’ve ever known someone to procrastinate in a prolonged fashion, they’re probably still in the contemplation stage.

It is important to note how people in this stage won’t be positioned to act immediately, so will often be unswayed by conventional change programs.

Preparation

Finally some headway is being made, and people are positioned to take immediate action. This usually suggests a timeline of around 1 month, and is the result of significant work to reach this point.

People who are willing to take action are positioned to embrace new change initiatives, and this reinforces whatever measures you’ve implemented to encourage them.

This stage could simply explain someone who’s willing to change but doesn’t know how to. In this case, you’ll need to rely on strategy to help your staff transition to the next level.

Action

By this time, from an organizational standpoint you can finally execute your vision. Working through the initial stages is a huge component of change management, but influencing the mindsets of your employees is arguably the hardest part.

Now you can focus on the action. Modifications should be gradually introduced, with new change initiatives that are embraced organization-wide. Staff are required to meet certain criteria, and will reach attainable milestones on a journey to making the change stick.

Leaders should be willing and flexible to modify their change strategy, and measure performance to understand which behaviors should be repeated, and which should be discouraged.

The action stage provides ample room for feedback, where you’d be wise to incorporate input to improve things.

Maintenance

Finally, and arguably the most important stage of all, maintenance. By this time, changes are starting to take full effect, but your objective is to make sure they become embedded at the core of the organization.

Staff will grow increasingly confident in changes, and will start to consider them to be the norm over time. It is the job of leaders and executives to encourage staff to embrace change as the new status quo, and over time it should naturally become just that.

Organizations can focus on sustaining change as part of their new organizational culture. By the time the change has become an integral component of daily duties, it can be maintained effectively.

To further maintain engagement, try one of these exercises out for size!

Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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