Six Steps for Dealing with Change


As time goes on, change becomes an increasing challenge to the entrepreneur. In the last issue, we approached change using the Force Field Analysis model. We hope it was helpful to many of you. In this issue, we’ve chosen to introduce the business change psychology of Dr. Shad Helmstetter. In his book You Can Excel in Times of Change, Helmstetter lists what he calls his “Six Steps for Dealing With Change.” His application is so broad it can apply to nearly any change that would require decision-making, in nearly any business. As you will probably notice, Helmstedder’s approach can also apply to other changes, even many in your personal life.

When a major change in on your horizon, following these six steps:

  1. Recognize and understand the change. Be sure that the change is what you think it is. Since change is often unprecedented in today’ world, try to make certain that it doesn’t take you by surprise.
  2. Make the decision to accept or reject the change. Especially when you include changes over which you might have some control, this is an important issue. When you have no control over the change, it’s still a good to think in terms of acceptance vs. rejection. If your decision is to accept, let the change become a useful part of your life-and of your business. If you reject, be sure you are doing so for rational and defensible reasons.
  3. Choose the attitude you are going to have toward the change. Some entrepreneurs, like many other people, make the mistake of thinking of themselves as victims, unable to form their own attitudes when outside forces affect them. Remember that the choice of what attitude you are going to have is yours, and yours alone. Be sure to exercise the independent spirit that made you become an entrepreneur in the first place!
  4. Choose the style that you are going to use to deal with the change. Some examples of choices are: giving in, partnering with someone else, passively or actively resisting, retreating, and actively accepting. Whichever style you choose, use it consistently and decisively.
  5. Choose the action that you are going to take every day. One way of dealing with change that threatens to upset your life is to live one day at a time. Each day is a new attack, a new plan. Make sure that each day represents a renewed effort.
  6. Review the steps and evaluate your progress daily. The best way to make a renewed effort is to do a daily progress check. Millions of people go through changes, muddling as they go. With some idea of where you’re headed, the progress you make can be both faster and more useful. Whether the changes in your business involve keeping up with technology, adding new products or services, or any of a hundred other possibilities, try using these six steps to help you deal with the change-or the prevention of it-realistically and effectively.

Source: These steps are based on Shad Helmstetter, You Can Excel in Times of Change (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991), pp. 145-180.

Lowell H. Lamberton is professor of business/management for Central Oregon Community College and can be reached at


About Author

Leave A Reply