Monday, July 18, 2011

Capacity for Change: New Skill Set for Employees?

I thought long and hard last week about an individual's capacity to handle change in the workplace. So many times when we are called in on a project we are changing something in the organization. Whether it is strategy or a performance management system. The way things used to look, now look different. And every time we are involved in a change project, we have those employees that embrace change and those that go and hide in a corner.

I am wondering if through this recession, we have increased our personal capacity for change?

I mean people have lost jobs, people have lost their homes and finances....but I hear stories of resilience and perseverance.

Then, I thought about my own situation I am going through all of life's greatest changes all at once and I feel I have a different perspective on change. It almost makes me feel like if change isn't happening something is wrong.

Back to the organization...change is here to stay and I believe change is even more prevalent now. Companies have to course correct and react to competition and environmental issues. They have to do this quickly or be left behind. They depend on their employees to make this shift.

If this is the case, how do you "train" your employees to handle change? Is it change management training? How do you hire employees that can handle change?

Maybe we become "change seekers" by experience. Like in my example, this year I think I have experienced about as many changes as a person can. I feel it has made me stronger and has given me perspective. It makes a new organizational change seem like child's play.

We use an instrument called the CSI, Change Style Instrument, that assesses your style when it comes to change. I like the instrument because it is all about awareness and how you can communicate change to people that have different change styles. Here are the styles CSI has indentified:

My question is this...are we all moving to an "originator" style, based on our experiences? Can we be a conserver and then over time become an originator?

What are your thoughts on the subject of change capacity....


Unknown said...

I did CSI a couple of times in different audiences. Depending on the type of the audience, you will get different results, but the normal distribution curve reaffirms itself. Really, in order for a society to funtion well, you need all three types. Too many originators will throw us into a perpetual whirl of change and instability - so the conservers preserve the balance. So... no reasons to worry... yet :)

Barbara A Hughes said...

Sergey's point is well taken.
There is also the issue of a person's brain being hard-wired through years of creating those lovely little neural pathways. Guess what happens when someone wants to re-wire our circuitry? It takes a long time. One of the reasons that organizations like Proctor & Gamble look at change as a long term issue not a quick fix.
Good post!

Unknown said...

Thanks Barbara and Sergey. I can always count on you guys to weed through the info and make great points based on data and insights. I love that point about too many originators will throw us into a perpetual whirl of change....I have a visual. Somebody has to execute on that change!

Thanks for reading!


Chris Musselwhite said...

Thanks for the comments. I've worked with CSI a lot over the years. It often feels like the conservers believe they have to be the governor or device that keep the originators from racing out of control. Most of the conservers I encounter are resistant to ideas which they fear cannot be implemented and of becoming the scapegoats for poor execution. For me CSI makes the conversation less judgmental which opens up helpful new space.

Unknown said...


I couldn't agree with you more. I have seen the CSI do that and big "aha's" came on all over the room!

Thanks for reading and commenting!


Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed reading this. Our blog has a recent post about dealing with change too: