The Four Responses to Change

Change Causes Four Responses

Change is an integral part of work life.  It can be something as basic as moving into an new office or as complex as implementing a new technology.  Even though the reality is that change is inevitable, it is often hard for many to accept which makes the transition all that more difficult.

People have different reactions and needs during time of transition.  Leaders who recognize the four types of responses to change will be able to understand needs better and support those who must participate and implement the change.

The Four Reponses to  Change

By recognizing these four responses and addressing the respective needs, the successful leader  will be able to move forward in the change with more buy in and ultimate success:

  1. The Keepers who want to keep doing what they were doing
  2. The Workers who want to do something right now
  3. The Thinkers who want to think about it differently first
  4. The Divers who want to do anything new

The Keepers are The Historians

They know what was done before and why.  They will appear to resist new changes and be foot dragging, but if you address their needs, you will find strong allies.  The leader must introduce the change by:

  • Relating it to what they know
  • Giving a detailed picture of the change
  • Connecting with what is known and understood
  • Showing them how it can make a tangible, lasting difference in their work

The Workers Are Action Oriented:

They like to act now.  They will be bored by lengthy explanations that appear inefficient.  They want to do something now and sometimes anything!  The wise leader will introduce the change by:

  • Relating it to what they can do
  • Giving them a realistic rationale for the change
  • Emphasizing the connection with current procedures
  • Showing how it can make their work more efficient and easier

The Thinkers Live In the Future:

They like the world of possibilities.  They need time to think about innovative solutions and they do not like to be rushed.  The leader will be successful introducing the change by:

  • Giving them the underlying significance of the change
  • Relating it to innovative concepts
  • Emphasizing the possibilities for creativity
  • Showing them how it can bring their work closer to the ideal

The Divers Like to Dive Right In:

They like change and they like it often.  They are easily bored by routine. While they may appear to be the best for change, their potential blind spot is that they may sometimes jump at change simply for change sake. The best way to successfully introduce change to them is by:

  • Relating it to inventive ways of doing things
  • Giving them a broad overview of the change
  • Emphasizing the possibilities for variety
  • Showing them how it can make their work pioneering and fresh.

The Best Leaders  Leverage the Four Responses  to Change

Can you identify anyone who has one of the four responses?  If you have all of the four responses to change on your team, you are poised to have a successful transition because together they represent a full bodied point of view.  The combined personalities of your team are the winning combination.  If you are too loaded up in one response, say Workers, your team may be chasing their tails, looking really busy, but not really moving towed the goal.

If you are not sure who represents the four responses, you may benefit from an assessment such as the Myers Briggs which can bring more clarity to your team’s perspective. By understanding the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, you and your team will be able to deal with any change that comes your way.