Episode No. 111
  •  May 4, 2023

Managing Change That You Don’t Control

And What About All Of Those Emotions, Too?

Sometimes we find ourselves on the receiving end of change, but how to manage the change we do not control? And how do we deal with the emotions that come with all of this change? 


It is helpful to know ourselves – always, but particularly with change.  In 1962, E.M. Rogers created the Diffusion of Innovation Theory – how change happens.  Innovators are the creators of change.  Early adopters are people in leadership who embrace change.  Early majority are those of us who are not in leadership, but are more willing than most to adopt a change.  Late majority are the folks who are reluctant to change, but will do it once most others have.  Laggards, are those who are reluctant to change – and just really do not like it.  Knowing who we are on this scale gives us a starting point to address the impacts of change.

When change happens, there can be things that frustrate us, worry us and create problems for us.  Change can create just about any negative emotion or experience.  McKinsey created the 7 S’s, which is really an organizational tool, but serves as an excellent evaluation tool:  

1 – is your problem or concern one of strategy – does the change impact the organization’s plan for building and maintaining a competitive advantage over competitors?

2 – is your problem or concern one of structure – does the change impact how workers are organized and who reports to who?

3 – is your problem or concern with systems – does the change impact how work is performed?

4 – is your problem or concern with values – does the change impact the core values or work ethic of the organization?

5 – is your problem or concern one of style – does the change impact leadership style?

6 – is your problem or concern one of staffing – does the change impact the ability of the humans to do their work?

7 – is your problem or concern one of skills – does the change impact the skills and competencies of the organization’s workers?

Analyzing your concern or problem through this lens provides a framework to better manage our responses.

Once we understand our problem or concern, there are strategies to manage those reactions:

  1. Acknowledge the change. When change is happening in the workplace, acknowledge it  and our responses in a non-judgmental way.
  2. Excavate your fears and concerns. Writing down these fears and considering what you will do about each can diffuse our reactions.
  3. Be flexible
  4. Be part of the change. Any time we can be involved, we have an opportunity to shape change.
  5. Communicate. It is important to articulate problems and concerns to leadership.
  6. Reduce Stress and anxiety. Of course!  
  7. Have a sense of meaning. Understanding the value of our work can help us navigate change


(40) 10 Tips for Dealing with Change Positively in Your workplace | LinkedIn

McKinsey 7-S Framework – Making Every Part of Your Organization Work in Harmony

Diffusion of Innovation Theory