Going Forwards in Times of Change

We’re all experiencing fast-paced change now, but change is not unusual, in fact a key part of our Careers and Professional Development programme for MBA students is a session called Managing Change & Ambiguity, where we focus on how different personality types react to change.

Within the session we use The Transition Curve (pictured below), derived from the Kübler-Ross model, to talk generally about the stages people go through when there is a change.

The Transition Curve

As we are working with experienced professionals, the discussions tend to centre on changes such as organisational restructuring and redundancy programmes.  One of the things oft mentioned with respect to organisational restructuring is that it is rare to navigate the whole transition curve before the next restructure kicks in, so curves would overlap like below.

overlap 1

The new curve in these instances tends to start a few months after the first one, so even though the effect is continuous change, there is usually a chance to reach stages 3, 4 or 5.

At the moment, as Covid-19 spreads across the world, the changes are happening daily, so we’re constantly being thrown back to 1 like in the picture below:

overlap 2

So how can we make sense of this state of flux?

  • Release yourself from your short term plans – this can be painful for many, especially if you’ve been crafting your action plan carefully and deliberately, so imagining hitting the “pause” button on them, rather the “stop” or “reset”, may help you with this;
  • Identify your immediate priority(ies) such as welfare of loved ones, money, health, your personal needs (e.g. to feel useful, to have social contact, to learn something new);
  • Identify ways to meet your priorities and needs, and then actively and positively follow the opportunities that come your way. This is the Planned Happenstance model developed by Krumboltz and you can read more about it here.

Moving to this type of career approach can lead you to places that you never thought you’d go, broaden your horizons, and help you develop skills and interests you never imagined.

It does require more flexibility and adaptability than a traditional action planning approach, and that can feel more difficult for some of us. It won’t be forever though, and when we are in calmer times again you will have so much more information about yourself when you revisit and refresh those paused plans.

If you’re a current, UK-educated Henley Business School student, or have graduated from Henley in the last 4 years, you can discuss all this with a careers consultant.  Book a remote appointment at a time to suit you via My Jobs Online.

*Alumni will need to register as a ‘Graduate’


Graham Philpott, Careers Consultant at Henley Business School