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Satir’s Change Management: How To Lead Change In The Workplace?

Satir’s Change Management: How To Lead Change In The Workplace?

Virginia Satir was an influential American psychotherapist, known for her significant contributions to family therapy and the development of experiential therapy.

Her insights into human behavior and communication have had a lasting impact, leading to the development of the Satir Change Model. This model was first developed to understand and guide individuals and families through the process of change. However, Satir’s change model has also been adapted for organizational settings for a long time.

In this article, we’ll go through the stages of the change model and see how people leaders can implement change in an organization.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Satir's Change Model?
  2. What Are The Stages Of The Satir Change Model?
  3. How Can Leaders Apply Satir’s Change Model?
  4. Change Management Training


What Is Satir’s Change Model?

In an organization context, The Satir Change Model is a psychological framework that describes the change process in the workplace. Her model is particularly focused on the human aspects of change, including the emotional responses employees experience throughout the process.

It highlights how individuals and organizations react to change, emphasizing the emotional and psychological transitions that occur. The model shows that change often begins with discomfort and resistance, moves through a period of confusion and chaos, and eventually leads to a new, improved state of operations.

Satir's Change Model definition

In an organisational context, the goal of the Satir Model is to support deep and lasting transformation by improving how employees and team leaders manage and react to change.


What Are The Stages Of The Satir Change Model?

According to the Satir model, change occurs in five stages: Late Status Quo, Resistance, Chaos, Integration, and New Status Quo.

  • Late Status Quo: This initial stage is where things are familiar and comfortable. The system in the organization is stable, but there may be underlying issues that are not being addressed.

  • Resistance: When a foreign element or a change is introduced, it disrupts the status quo. This resistance to change manifests itself in employee emotional responses such as denial, anger, or anxiety, driven by fear or uncertainty.

  • Chaos: As the change progresses, the system enters a phase of chaos. During this process, old patterns have been disrupted, but new ones have not yet been established, leading to confusion and disorder. This is often the most challenging phase, as the reaction to change feels overwhelming, with no clear direction or stability.

  • Integration: Gradually, integration occurs as employees and the system begin to experiment with new behaviors and ways of being. New ideas and processes start to make sense, and employees begin to see the benefits of the change. This stage is characterized by learning and growth.

  • New Status Quo: Finally, a new status quo is established. The system stabilizes again into a new form of normalcy, which incorporates the changes that have occurred. This new status quo is ideally more functional and improved compared to the old one.

How Can Leaders Apply Satir’s Change Model For Organizational Change?

Before integrating Satir’s Change Model methodology, in the first place, are your employees ready for change?

Get the answers to the most frequently asked questions about organizational  change in this guide. >> 

Leaders can effectively apply Satir’s Change Model to make organizational change smoother by understanding and managing each stage strategically.

Here’s how leaders can approach each stage of the Satir model to lead change:

  • In the Late Status Quo phase, leaders should assess the current state and prepare for change. They should identify both strengths and underlying issues and communicate with the team to build flexibility.

  • In the Resistance stage, leaders should practise effective communication to embrace change and inform the team about the reasons for change and its benefits. Effective leadership during change involves genuinely understanding and addressing the concerns and emotions of team members. In this phase, leaders should build empathy with the team and provide support through counseling and training to ease the transition.

  • Leaders must be actively involved in team management and be visible during the Chaos stage. Leading by example can reassure and stabilize the workforce. Leaders can take advantage of the chaos, using it as an opportunity to encourage innovative thinking.

  • As new processes and behaviors start to form in the Integration phase, leaders should guide their teams on how to integrate these changes into their daily operations. For this, they can provide team training for employees. This ensures that the team has the necessary management tools, skills, and resources to adapt to the change. Additionally, schedule regular catch-up meetings to monitor progress, run the start, stop, continue exercise to collect feedback, address any challenges, and reinforce the new processes and behaviors.

  • Once the new practices are established, it’s important to support these changes through policies, culture, and rewards. In the New Status Quo stage, leaders should celebrate the successes and recognize team achievement.

Satir change curve graph

Besides, people leaders should continuously monitor the outcomes of the change and be prepared to make adjustments. This ensures the changes are sustainable and continue to meet organizational goals.

Throughout the process, leaders should focus on the emotional and human aspects of change, just as much as the technical or operational aspects. By understanding and empathising, and managing the emotional journey through these stages, leaders can drive more successful and less disruptive change within their organizations.


Conclusion: Change Management Training

Change leadership refers to the process and ability to lead, manage, and facilitate change within an organization. To effectively navigate organizational change, leaders and managers at all levels can benefit from structured learning experiences like those offered in our Change Management Training. This program equips individuals with the necessary tools and techniques to drive successful change initiatives, aligning closely with the principles outlined in Satir's model.

Take our Change Readiness Assessment, designed for team leaders, managers, supervisors, and change agents, to evaluate the factors that significantly impact the likelihood of a change initiative's success and that they can control at a high level.

Download the FAQs to Change Leadership


[GUIDE] The FAQs of Change Leadership

[GUIDE] The FAQs of Change Leadership

Find the answers to all your questions about leading change at work, plus access a change readiness assessment in this guide!

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