Personality and Change

Change is inevitable. We all experience change throughout life, be it seasonal, organisational or self-inflicted. While change is an event (e.g. a new job), the human response to change is a process. Human reactions to change may be positive and productive or they may be the contrary. Some people prefer change that is incremental: a gradual development that adheres to rules and builds on what is already working. Others prefer radical and expansive change which challenges the status quo. Still others prefer to explore all perspectives, maintaining harmony whilst creating gradual, productive change.

These reactions to change are thought to be deep rooted in personality. Although it is recognised that external influences such as experience influence our reactions to change, there are theories that humans are born with innate preferences for interpreting the world around us.

Though change is a well understood topic, the human relationship with change is less understood. One assessment tool which incorporates personality in change is the Change Style Indicator (CSI). The CSI identifies a person’s natural change style preference, believed to be a function of personality. These preferences are split into three styles: Conserver, originator, pragmatist. Conservers prefer slow change, originators prefer fast change and pragmatists prefer middle-of-the-road, productive change. The CSI helps organisations recognise that better understanding of these style preferences leads to enhanced awareness of ourselves and others, improved leadership and performance in the workplace.

A relationship between change style and personality is clear. Conversers like to focus on the reality of how things are. They pay attention to concrete facts and details, and like to describe things in a specific, literal way. Originators are spontaneous and love to improvise. They are outgoing and enjoy being in a fast-paced environment. Pragmatists are methodical and collaborative, agreeable and flexible.

Assessing someone’s change style preference will give both you and the individual being assessed insight into not just how they react to change, but also an insight into their personality. It also creates an appreciation for change style diversity, making teams more cohesive and dynamic. The Change Style Indicator shows that innate personality characteristics play a role in the way individuals manage situations in the workplace, and upholds the psychological element imbedded in the overall management of change.

Learn more about the Change Style Indicator.

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