Managing Change In Your Health, Fitness or Wellness Business

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You’re making a major change in your wellness business, opening the door to huge opportunities.

Maybe it’s a shift to whole-person wellness rather than just physical fitness. Perhaps you’re expanding into comprehensive employee wellness programs from traditional gym memberships.

What’s major? A change so big that it requires entirely new ways of selling and marketing your services, bringing in completely new ways of thinking about your business, adding brand-new types of expertise to your team that you’ve never had before.

You’re excited by the potential. You may even feel that it’s just what the doctor ordered — that you’re giving the business an infusion of new energy, a new lease on life.

And yet — your employees are less than excited. Even resistant. Grumbling in the ranks, whispered conversations that stop when you walk by.

You’re irritated, maybe even fearful about their reaction. They ought to be thrilled! Don’t they get why this is so important?

What’s wrong with them?!

Well, you and your management team have been thinking about this for a long time. You’ve looked at all the angles. You’re convinced it’s the right answer.

But it’s “new news” for your employees. They probably didn’t see this coming at all. They certainly haven’t thought about it nearly as deeply as you have–or they have thought about it, figured they’d be asked their thoughts at some point, and then never were–until you announced your decision.

They’ve got to be wondering what it means for them. Even if you think it won’t affect them, it probably will – you just haven’t figured out how yet.

Here’s what to expect once you announce the new direction:

Phase 1: Wondering About The Future

In this stage, people are on the sidelines by necessity. They don’t know what to expect or what’s going to happen next – only that change is planned. So they’re waiting to see what really happens. Anxiety builds. What does this mean for me?

Phase 2: Confronting A New Reality

When people reach Phase 2, they begin to confront reality. They’re beginning to realize that you’re serious about making this change, so it’s really going to happen. It’s not just the “flavor of the day”.

Phase 3: Realizing The Implications

Once you start making noticeable changes to the business — say, hiring new types of wellness professionals — your staffers begin to realize that that there’s no looking back. Nothing will return to the way it used to be.

Phase 4: Missing What Was

Employees in this phase go through what can almost be described as a grieving process for the past. For example, they may intellectually understand why expanding to employers is desirable. But they miss the old days when your attention was exclusively focused on their area of the business.

They often recall the past with rose-colored glasses. Things that used to make them nuts now get described as “Oh, that wasn’t SO bad….”

Phase 5: Accepting The New Reality

Now, people begin to accept the change. They probably still have some doubts, but they’re not actively resisting the change. And they’re probably beginning to see some benefits from the new approach.

Phase 6: Embracing The New Reality

People in this phase have fully accepted the new state of affairs. They may even say “I can’t believe we used to…” or “We should’ve done this a long time ago.”

Now, individual employees move through these phases at different speeds. And sometimes they move back and forth between different phases or even skip a phase.

Remembering these phases will help you understand how best to support them as they assimilate the new direction.