Become a Champion of Change During Uncertainty

Watching the economic uncertainty of the last few months has stitched our future with uncertainty as well. Your teams are understandably concerned about the future of the organization and their job security. Any unplanned call or harmless “Do you have a minute?” message could cause mental turbulence for many employees. This economic imbalance will mean change for your teams, and unplanned change could bring unrest among your people.

Change feels threatening, even in the best of times. It is our innate survival response to react when change occurs. But change follows a predictable pattern, and understanding the stages of change can give your leaders the confidence needed to lead through difficulty, stress, and chaos.

The stages of change are:

  • Status quo: Where you are before the change.
  • Disruption: Where you move once the change starts.
  • Adoption: Where you adapt to the new rules of change.
  • Innovation: Where you find success in change.

As a leader, understanding where you and your people are along this spectrum can help you turn the uncertainty of change into opportunity.

Understand the Reactions to Change

The next step is understanding the five common reactions to change and how to work with them. As you learn more about how people understand, navigate, react to, and prepare for change, you’ll build a solid foundation that helps you and your organization move through initial reactions to change.

The reactions to change include five common classifications: 

  • Move: Rolling with change quickly.
  • Minimize: Changing as little as possible.
  • Wait: Making no changes until others do.
  • Resist: Actively fighting against change and convincing others to do the same.
  • Quit: Deciding not to engage with change.

The main reactions to change when it comes to economic uncertainty are Move, Wait, and Quit. The following are examples of these reactions and how to counteract them.


This is the most positive response to change. It’s a good thing when people want to jump headfirst into a change, adapt to their world, and try new things. However, this is a double-edged sword. Without the proper guidance from leadership, these decisions are made with little information and can leave others behind. When you have employees who like to Move, remind them to take a moment and breathe. Teach them to ask themselves, “Is this action helping or preventing me from making progress?” Change is a great opportunity to try new things, but don’t let your people get ahead of themselves or your organization.


This is similar to the “Deer-in-headlights” response. You see something coming but are too worried or unsure to jump out of the way. If your people are responding this way, all it will take is some gentle coaxing from trusted sources. Ensure your leaders meet regularly with their teams to form plans and goals. Create deadlines that push your people to action. Communicate that failure may come, but that isn’t a reason to not do anything.


It’s common to feel skittish during economic uncertainty. Your people could be tempted to move on at the smallest sign of company failure—their finger hovering over the “Apply Now” button at a company that might seem stronger and more stable—and your leader’s fears might help push them. When counteracting this response, communication is key. Reassure your employees. There is no need to lie or exaggerate, but help your employees know that you are there for them, understand how uncertain everything feels, and will work with them until your organization has reached the other side.

Change Will Come

Change will come, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Guide your people with the skills and resources they need to lead their teams confidently through change. Change: How to Turn Uncertainty Into Opportunity™ is included in your All Access Pass and is available on the Impact Platform. Or to learn more, sign up for our complimentary webcast, Navigate Change in 2023.

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