Kubler-Ross Change Curve Process Checklists focuses on the emotions an employee will go through during change.

Kubler-Ross Change Curve: An introduction

Teh Kubler-Ross Change Curve was Developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a psychiatrist who detailed the first five stages of grief in her book On Death and Dying in 1969. The model details the five stages humans go through during grief, which is also reflective of the emotions triggered during change.

The model recognizes that it is the employees who are responsible for carrying out the changes made. You can give them systems to follow and the training to fill in the gaps, but ultimately employee emotions can form a stranglehold on productivity if not managed correctly.

By knowing the five stages of grief, employee reactions can be anticipated, and the appropriate measures put in place well ahead of time. The stages are:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

People can move through these stages in a random order,  they can also jump backward and repeat stages.

What's good about it

The model can anticipate and manage the emotional reactions of an employee and thus their productivity. It accounts for the emotional take on the change process, allowing you to see in advance where the biggest problems could arise.

It's about knowing how your team members will react, and how their reaction could impact the rest of your team.

What's bad about it

Although the model strives to predict an individual's emotions, these emotions are unpredictable at any given time. This can make it difficult to fully manage the team.

There is no method given on how to guide your employees through each stage during change, meaning the steps you take are both down to knowledge and experience.

It must be noted though, what could be an actionable and successful approach to take for the one employee, may not work for another.

How to use this checklist

At the beginning of this checklist, you will be presented with a set of specialized questions given as form fields. You are required to populate each form field with your data.

The checklist is broken down into the 5 stages of the Kubler-Ross Change Curve:

  • Stage 1: Denial 
  • Stage 2: Anger
  • Stage 3: Bargaining
  • Stage 4: Depression
  • Stage 5: Acceptance

At the end of each stage, your supervisor/manager will review your work using Process Street's approvals feature. Other features used in this template include: 

  • Stop tasks - To ensure task order.
  • Dynamic due dates - To make sure your initiative is reviewed on time.
  • Role assignment - To delegate tasks within your team ensuring your supervisors are appropriately assigned to the review tasks.
  • Approvals - Tasks can be accepted, rejected, and rejected with comments.

Record checklist details

In this Kubler-Ross Change Curve Process Checklist, you will be presented with the following form fields for which you are required to populate with your specific data. More information for each form field type is provided via linkage to our help pages:

Let's start by recording your business details, your details, and the details of your supervisor or manager.

This is a stop task, meaning you cannot progress in this template until the required form fields are populated.

Business details
Your details
Details of Manager/Supervisor
Checklist details

Once set, the due dates for each phase in this Kubler-Ross Change Curve will be used to set a dynamic due date, notifying your manager for the needed stage approval when required.

Overview the changes needed

Before diving into the details of the Kubler-Ross Change Curve, take the time to overview the changes you intend to implement.

Begin by summarizing the changes to be made, before detailing why these changes are important. Next, state potential roadblock you could encounter from the changes proposed. Use the long-text form field to detail this information.

Stage 1 - Denial:

Detail the change to be deployed in incremental steps

"I can't believe it", "This can't be happening", "Not to me!", "Not again!" - Change Management Coach, Kubler-Ros Five Stage Model

The denial stage is usually short-term and involves the team members dismissing that change is needed, why it will happen, and what will happen if it occurs.

During this phase, employees need to be able to take things gradually and not be swamped with too much information, or too severe change.

There are two steps you need to focus on during this denial phase:

  1. Open communication
  2. Taking the transition slowly

For taking the transition slowly, detail the change needed, but then set up the change in incremental steps. It is best to document these steps in a centralized document system.

You can use the file upload or website form fields below to add your centralized document to this checklist.

Set up a meeting

Obtaining open communication with your team regarding the implemented change is the next step.

The best way to initiate this open communication is to set up a meeting, designed to communicate the changes (as per the incremental steps) and to listen to feedback and team concerns.

Use the date form field to select a date for this meeting. You can then use the members form field to select the members to attend this stage 1 meeting.

Run stage 1 meeting

It is now time to run the stage 1 meeting. Be sure to gather the required feedback from your team members.

This is a stop task meaning you cannot progress in this checklist until the stage 1 meeting complete.

Note down feedback

Make a note of the feedback obtained during the stage 1 meeting. It is important that your team feels heard.

It is a good idea to record this feedback in a centralized document. Use the file upload or website form fields below to add this document to this checklist.

Approval: Stage 1

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Run stage 1 meeting
    Will be submitted

Stage 2 - Anger:

Prepare in advance for anger

"I have no control over this situation!" “Someone must be to blame!" - People HR, The Emotion of Change

Denial can often pave the way for fear to set in, and it is this fear that can lead to anger. This anger could be:

  • Anger at the changes made
  • Anger at the decision to make the changes
  • Anger at the colleagues for accepting it

This anger can present itself as hostility within the team or full-on outbursts. It is important to understand that anger is a normal part of the change process. With change, people are pushed outside of their comfort zone, and in doing so people put on their defensive. 

It is key, in this stage, to realize that anger is normal and to plan for it. You need to set up a support system for your employees. Use the long-text form field to detail this support system.

As you plan for the anger stage, make sure you:

  • 1
    Provide extra communication
  • 2
    Identify any particular individuals most likely to get angry to provide the support they need
  • 3
    Have measures in place in case the employee blows up, to prevent things from getting out of hand
  • 4
    Make sure every team member impacted by change has someone to talk to

Approval: Stage 2

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Prepare in advance for anger
    Will be submitted

Stage 3- Bargaining:

Be aware of bargaining

During the bargaining process, employees may try to alter the changes set so that most things end up staying the same. During this phase look out for:

  • 1
    Employees giving feedback against the change
  • 2
    Direct conversations where the employee is against the imposed changes
  • 3
    Attempts to spread the belief that the imposed changes are not necessary

The above can lead your team members to fail to carry out your changes in their entirety. This could be worse than if they weren't carried out at all. During the bargaining phase, make sure you:

  • 1
    Listen to feedback, and acknowledge useful feedback
  • 2
    Be aware of bargaining for the sake of reducing the changes
  • 3
    Remain firm on the parts that matter

It must be noted that some of the feedback given by the employees could be useful.

Update your change processes

Part of implementing change into your business is to update your business processes to account for the change.

For this, you firstly need documented processes. You can document your processes in a checklist format, just like this one, using Process Street.

For more information on how to create processes in Process Street, watch the below video.

Set up meeting

During the bargaining stage, you need to re-affirm to your team why the changes are needed. For this, set up a meeting.

Use the date form field to set a meeting date, and the members form the field to select the members to attend.

Run stage 3 meeting

It is now time to run the stage 3 meeting.

When running this meeting be sure to:

  • 1
    Re-read all documentation regarding the changes implemented
  • 2
    Reiterate why the changes were needed
  • 3
    Be prepared to compromise on some-level

This is a stop task meaning you cannot progress in this checklist until the stage 3 meeting complete.

Approval: Stage 3

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Update your change processes
    Will be submitted
  • Run stage 3 meeting
    Will be submitted

Stage 4 - Depression:

Manage the depressive phase

"Why should I care?" "What's the point?" - People HR, The Emotion of Change

The change implemented will impact your employees and your employee's moods. One stage during this process is the depression stage.

It is at this stage where employee productivity will be at its lowest.

To accommodate for this period,  make sure that:

  • 1
    Friction is limited in the activities taken
  • 2
    Make the new process rewarding or interesting in some way
  • 3
    Continue to listen to your team
  • 4
    Continue with the support system
  • 5
    Reiterate to the employees what they can gain from the changes made

This stage is all about keeping your employee's spirits up.

Approval: Stage 4

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Manage the depressive phase
    Will be submitted

Stage 5 - Acceptance:

Celebrate acceptance

"This has happened" "Ready to move on" - People HR, The Emotion of Change

Acceptance is the final stage and should be celebrated.

Make sure the celebrate the acceptance phase. This celebration can include building new goals around the changes that have been made.

Use the long-text form field below to detail these new goals set.

For optimum productivity, set ambitious goals for your employees with the new change in action.

To make sure you are celebrating the acceptance phase optimally, consider:

  • 1
    Messaging your core promoters
  • 2
    Rewarding particularly helpful team members
  • 3
    Make a list of the positives brought forward by the changes made
  • 4
    Show good grace and lead by example

Approval: Stage 5

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Celebrate acceptance
    Will be submitted


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