from our experience that change in our professional life is more of the rule rather than the exception. We need to adjust ourselves to many new demands in our personal and professional life: new life tasks like caring for others, new job tasks, unexpected changes like job loss or wanted ones like getting that job that we want very much.
It has become common knowledge that it takes some time and some skill to overcome change.
Many career workshops have this as the main subject and we talk about change management skills as important career management skills. In this text, I will present to you one of the change models – The Competence curves, that may help us to navigate the personal change process and to guide our clients.
I have chosen this model because of the following philosophical assumptions:
- The process of change is normal process of developing our competences, skills, etc. In short, it is the process of growth.
- It illustrates change as a process of psychological development- we have certain tasks in each stage, and we need certain support to fulfill them.
- Our development is not linear, but rather a spiral – we encounter unfinished tasks and have the opportunity to increase our competences with every new change.
These assumptions are here to help us to enrich and normalize their frame of reference regarding the change. Also, it helps us to monitor the process of the change and choose our interventions by following stages of the change, tasks and emotional needs.
For example, Mark wants to change his job and has just what he wants. What does he need in this transitional period?
The first stage is Immobilisation, where we are getting used to the new reality. We need some time just to be in the situation, to compare our expectations to the new reality. We are focused on basic needs and we will need information about new situation, and certain fears will be increased: being afraid of doing something wrong, appearing stupid, unknown. In this phase, it is important to give ourselves time to get used to new situations and to remind ourselves of previous accomplishments and how competent we are.
The second stage is Denial/Exploring where our task is to start understanding new situation, explore options and focus on opportunities within new situation. For example, explore what is expected from us in certain role, make contact with new colleagues, etc.
Third stage is Thinking/Frustration where we start to become frustrated with some aspects of situation or face some challenges. We need constructive feedback and tolerance toward frustration while developing constructive options. For example, you will get clear picture of you in certain roles, limits of the situation and your skills.
In next stage, Acceptance, our task is to select options and let go of some past attitudes and expectations. We start to develop new layers of identity and start to see life after the change. This is time for review and new action plans.
Following this, stage Development guide us toward decision completion – starting some training or some other way to acquire the skills and knowledge required for desired success.
During Application stage, we start to use our skills and we notice the feeling like change is part of our everyday life. We move towards the final stage, Completion where we feel like it has been part of our life, and we are ready to move on to some new responsibilities.
Each of these stages may trigger some unfinished tasks or signal that some of our clients may need additional support. For example, people who have unpleasant experiences with the educational process or are not used to making decisions may postpone and avoid making decisions. Sometimes, working process may rush first stage by not giving people time to just get used to it.