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Flattening the Change Curve with Amber McMillan

In our second session of the Resilient Leadership Program, with signature sponsor Coast Capital Savings, our keynote speaker Amber McMillan spoke to the notion that in order to lead our teams amongst a pandemic, we must flatten more than one curve.


The Resilient Leadership Program is an initiative to support the leadership teams of our community-serving organizations through the COVID-19 pandemic. This week's session invited organizations from across Vancouver Island to drop in and collaborate on topics such as team management, HR support, checking in with your team, and supporting transition from crisis to the next step. The bulk of our insightful and informative webinar focused on change management for staff conceptualized as "the change curve."


Amber McMillan is a leadership educator, non-profit expert, executive educator, thought leader, online content creator and speaker. She is a diversely skilled professional with a unique approach for innovating and leading projects in various environments. With experience in all aspects of project, change, and people management as well as operations and organizational strategy, she is committed to the highest of standards and works diligently to create positive working environments. Amber is known for her contagious enthusiasm.

So what exactly is this change curve, how do we "flatten it," and why should we?


Amber approaches team management from a person-centred approach.

“In a pandemic, we could not have been reminded more of how human we are; because our humanity is vulnerable.” It's time to put the humanity back into Human Resources!


The challenges many individuals and organizations have faced due to COVID-19 have presented themselves in unique ways; the only constant, is change. Our tool from today's session emphasizes how to recognize and navigate stages in the change curve.


Here's a break down of what that looks like:

  1. Shock/Surprise. In the first stage, fear of the unknown can cause confusion and distress. As leaders, we need to ensure safety by creating a plan, and communicating that message in a clear and concise way.

  2. Denial. A lack of stability will lead team members to doubt their abilities and new reality. As leaders, we need to reinforce our message to protect our teams from doubt.

  3. Frustration. Our curve is dipping; here, teams may feel angry and we may see some risk taking behaviours. As leaders, we need to focus on the facts to retain logical reasoning.

  4. Depression. Our teams are burnt out, with low mood and low morale. The curve has hit an all time low. What can we do as leaders? Listen. People need time, and they need to communicate. Give that space.

  5. Experimental. The curve is picking up... we are experiencing the initial engagement with our new reality. Leaders should encourage generating creative and innovate solutions for the team and cause.

  6. Decisions. Things are looking and feeling more positive; change seems possible. Let your team carve the path, let them make decisions that align with the new reality.

  7. Integration. Our change is integrated, and we can only move forward.

We extend our gratitude to Amber McMillan for this inspiring learning session, and to our signature sponsor Coast Capital Savings and the support from the City of Victoria in making the Resilient Leadership Program a reality. This program will continue to run for 6 more weeks- and it is not too late to join! Next week we will open the session to the public again to talk about digital leadership, and you can find out more about that event here.

Learn more about the program by clicking here.

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We acknowledge and respect the Lekwungen-speaking peoples on whose traditional territories our organization works, and the Songhees, Esquimalt and the WSANEC peoples who historical relationships with the land continue to this day. 

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