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Response Styles to Change – Leadership Architecture & Design

Response Styles to Change

Adapting to change is one of the most important challenges that we face in today’s workplace. Many terms such as “change management”, “agile”, etc have become the new buzzwords, but for good reason: we live in a society that is literally changing faster than ever before, in almost every way. Our ability to deal with and cope with this change dictates our ability to do well in the workplace.

According to data collected by IBM on how to make change work, 87% of people surveyed thought that not enough focus was placed on managing change. This means that when change happens in the workplace, it is not being managed effectively enough to help people cope with it. The people who help manage change effectively are being dubbed ‘Change Architects,’ and their primary role is helping an organization or company to cope with the ever-changing workplace to make it easier for those who are affected by the change.

People respond differently to the changes we face, and an effective Change Architect can manage all these people differently in order to make the transition as smooth as possible. There are three different types of responses that have been identified.

  • Leapers: These are the people who embrace change with enthusiasm and joy. They are the ones who take on new roles without needing an introduction. Leapers tend to be the first ones offering their services when changes are implemented and they’re always happy to be on board with the first round of changes. Leapers are often early adopters of new products.
  • Bridge Builders: Bridger Builders are the people who are apprehensive about change, but happy to accept it if it’s delivered properly. These people aren’t usually the first to raise their hand, but they are happy to help out in smaller ways. Instead of diving in at the deep end of change, they prefer to take smaller steps in order to reach the desired outcome.
  • Tradition Holders: The complete opposite of Leapers, Tradition Holders are generally very averse to change. They are set in their ways and these people will either actively resist change, or they won’t proactively offer their help. While it’s easy to say these folks are “stuck in their ways”, Tradition Holders play a critical role in keeping an organization grounded and on track.

It’s important for Change Architects to manage each of these people in an individual way to get the most out of the changes taking place. Leapers may have to be reined in somewhat, as they tend to get carried away while leaving others behind. Bridge Builders will need to be kept in the loop regarding the different changes, as they won’t like being lumbered with things out of the blue. Tradition Holders will need the most support as they slowly get introduced to the relevant pieces.

It’s not enough for Change Architects to know how to manage different styles. It’s critical that individuals become aware of their own response style to change (and accept it!). All styles are needed within an organization and it’s important for all employees to understand this. Similar to coaching, the key to successful change management is increasing the awareness and responsibility of individuals as well as the team.

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