Sunday, March 1, 2015

In denial and in the doldrums - the PM's coming last

No, you won't get me to declare my political leanings because it is neither relevant to this discussion nor appropriate. However there are many editorials attempting to dissect the goings on in Canberra as we blog; filling column inches trying to make sense of the disharmony between Cabinet and back benchers on the actions and opinions of our Prime Minister and as an extension of that, his future. 

The psychology of change has, as its theoretical underpinnings, the psychology of death and dying, grief and loss. So forgive us change psychologists if at times we dwell on the pessimistic impacts of uninvited change. We're coming from a long way back!

The simplest labels I know for the four stages of change and transition are Denial, Resistance, Exploration and Commitment.

For a long time some segments of the Federal Government appeared to be in "denial" about the impact of "Captain's Calls" on everything from Knighthoods to Nightmarish attacks on Human Rights Commission Presidents (well, only one). 

Then we started to hear rumblings of "resistance" and the vultures started to circle and the hacks started to count votes. The government aborted their "exploration" of a new leader and thought they could "commit" to a PM in denial about the depth of feeling in the electorate and along the backbench. 

Usually we see a Company Executive transition through the stages too quickly, often leaving their staff lagging behind. Why might they move too fast? Execs are closer to the reasons for the change. They have a greater sense of self- efficacy. They were in the room when the decisions were made and feel a heightened sense of control over their own destinies. The risk of a temporal lag can often be that they're at full blown "commitment" to the new order and staff are still scratching their heads in disbelief (Denial) or grizzling around the water cooler (Resistance), trying to get their heads around it all.

In the case of the current crisis that has befallen our government, it is many of the voters, the back benchers and even some previously loyal cabinet members who have moved on and left the blinkered few in their budgie smugglers, getting burnt out there on their own without any sunscreen.

It is not for me to say our PM should go but the laws of uninvited change determine that eventually, reality bites and sooner rather than later I suspect, he may be shocked out of his "denial", wondering what on earth went so horribly wrong.