Managing Change: SARAH Model of Change

Though change has become a central phenomenon in most businesses today, it can be complicated to enforce, regardless of the size of the business. Having a model to draw on can help understand and ease the process of change for affected stakeholders.

Negative consequences may be manifested if the process of change is not carefully managed. Change agents need to put well-defined measures in place to ensure that the positive impact of the proposed change outweighs the negative. The SARAH model of change defines the stages majority of people go through as they adapt to change. SARAH is an abbreviation for:

  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Resistance
  • Acceptance, and
  • Healing/Hope

By understanding the change model, change agents, who are also business analysts in some organizations, can assist stakeholders by providing the support they need from the inception of the project until implementation. Depending on the personality of the stakeholder and their circumstances, they may experience all or some of these emotions as they cope with change:


People react with shock or denial when they are newly introduced to change. This stage requires that stakeholders are provided with the historical and background information they need to comprehend the reasons for the change and the intended outcome. Communication is key here.


Shock can manifest into anger or anxiety once people realise the implications of change. Change agents should keep in mind the objections or fears stakeholders may have and work on addressing them before they get out of hand.

This stage requires that change agents take action to mitigate the impact of the change on staff morale.


A period of resistance may be experienced. Sometimes, business stakeholders do resist change. Change agents should be prepared to address such situations by seeking management support or intervention, where necessary.


This stage occurs when stakeholders have come to terms with the change and are ready to accept or live with it. When stakeholders embrace change, benefits can be realised. Once stakeholders are at this point, the affirmative effects of change become obvious.  


At this point, new behaviour is manifested. Stakeholders must realise that change does not happen at once and that falling back to old habits can become a normal occurrence. They should however, be encouraged to keep trying whenever they fall back into old behaviour.

Individuals may act in different ways. The challenge to businesses therefore lies in deciding what it is precisely that they hope to change and how they plan to achieve it, taking all the potential feelings that stakeholders may express into consideration.

Picture Attribution: “Businessman Swap Paper Showing Contrast Idea” by pakorn/