The change curve model was developed by Elisabeth Kubler – Ross in 1960s.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, cited from

It addresses the grievance of employees working in the organisation. The model is used all over the world to help people to understand their reactions to significant change.

The Change Curve.jpg

Originally there were following five stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance
However after going through various transitions, now we are known to only three distinct stages and these stages are:

  1. Shock and Denial
  2. Anger and Depression
  3. Acceptance and Integration
Let’s discuss all these stages individually before we summarized the change curve at end in conclusion.

Stage 1 – Shock and Denial:
First reaction to a change is shock and it can be:
  1. Due to lack of information
  2. Due to fear of unknown
  3. Due to fear of looking stupid
  4. Due to fear of doing something wrong
Shock results into low performance, however it is short lived and temporary and individual move to or start expressing denial and the most common question comes up is that “Why we need this change?”

We park those individuals and teams in stage 1 who are not experience of change previously. Communication is the key at this stage as those individuals need assurance.

Stage 2 – Anger and Depression:
Common feeling under this stage is frustration and people start finding scapegoat to put blame on it. This stage sees the lowest of change curve where anger is wearing off and individual start feeling depressed because they understand that change is must. Performance is also lowest at this stage. This stage can be associated with:

  1. Remoteness
  2. Isolation
  3. Apathy
Knowledge is key at this stage as for good change manager it is necessary for them to move swiftly away from at this stage. This is the stage where most of the individual fall from organisation radar and leave the heart.

Stage 3 – Acceptance and Integration:
Time for new day and individual as this stage comes with more optimistic and enthusiastic mood. Performance level also starts to go up. Individual feels excited about new opportunities and would like the change to happen fast. The final step in this stage is integration. Individuals start believing themselves and respond well to given tasks and responsibilities.

Regular progress reports and praise through communication is key here and individuals wait impatiently for the change to complete.

The change curve is considered as useful tool for managing team or individual change. Each individual or individual being part of team reacts to change differently and it is not necessary that every individual see all the three phases. Some people spend more time in stage 1 and 2 and some of them move instantly to stage 3. However, the most important thing is to understand that there is no right or wrong sequence.

‎ accessed on December 5, 2013. accessed on December 12, 2013