During periods of major loss or change, individuals and businesses experience a number of stages in response to the loss or change. Everyone has to go through each of the stages in order to recover and the speed at which you get through them will determine how soon you recover.
- Denial - Refusal to believe and accept that things have changed, typically involving some loss. All efforts and energy invested in resisting that conditions have changed.
- Anger/Blame - Finding a target to blame for the change. All energy and effort is spent on finding someone or some institution to assign as reason for current situation.
- Bargaining and Hope - This stage involves people bargaining and hoping for someone to save them. This is a low level of responsibility. Lots of businesses are in this phase today as they wait for the banks to free up capital or the government to come in and suddenly save the day. This is just another level of denial of the situation.
- Apathy - Acceptance that things have changed and no one can save you and that in fact there is nothing you can do about it! This results in people moving into major contraction and worsening of their own condition by saving money, energy, resources, creativity and any efforts to figure a way out. The higher your responsibility level the shorter this stage and the lower your responsibility level the longer this stage. Apathy is a form of quitting or withdrawing.
- False Acceptance and Action - A spurt of effort to accept conditions and do something about it resulting in inconsistent and disappointing actions. This is the first stage of accepting that things have changed but in this first stage of acceptance most underestimate the degree of change (pain or loss) and then take actions based on earlier scene.
- Disappointment (another level of apathy) - . Because the actions used are from the past they will not result in satisfactory levels of production causing disappointment, confusion and possible frustration. This however results in and prepares the individual, team or company for true acceptance of the situation and what is required to dig out.
- True Acceptance Stage - This final stage is where the individual or team becomes fully aware of the amount of change for the first time and is now prepared to let go of the past and move into the future. This is the first time that an awareness of the need for new skills and actions will be needed. In this final stage of acceptance people will experience a reinvigoration and excitement about their business and future and become highly interested in reinventing themselves and their business.
In just the last weeks I have personally conducted over 100 tele-conference calls directly with over 800 business owners, executives and managers. The results of those calls suggest people are moving through the stages. Clearly the companies and individuals that are taking the time to have conference calls with me are going to have a higher degree of responsibility, so the statistics that follow are most likely not representative of the general population.
Here are some of the results obtained from the teleconference calls with me: Almost 80% of them stated they are no longer concerned with who is to blame but rather what they need to do. Over 95% believed as a result of the call that no one was going to come in a save the day (this is critical realization for moving on). Almost 100% of those on the calls expressed disappointment in the results from the actions they were taking and realized they were in the false acceptance stages. 99% of these same people acknowledged that they needed to learn new actions, new skills and new approaches for the new economy and that this change had to start with management. 98% agreed that while their economy was problematic, it was not the problem. This is also critical to recovery, as anyone in the blame stage will not take action as they are using all their energy and creativity assessing who is responsible. Lastly, over 90% believe the call moved them through the stages more quickly so that they could reach the final stage of 'True Acceptance' and start taking new actions to achieve new results.