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The only thing certain in life is change, and people react to change in different ways. But since change is a constant at work, the wrong reaction can sometimes be a career-killer. Can you spot your “change personality” in these five descriptions? See if you are an Optimist, a Follower, a Worrier, a Resister, or an Advocate.
Optimists love new ideas and view change as an opportunity for something good to happen. They are quick to see the positive aspects and tend to downplay the risks. Optimists become easily excited about new possibilities and move quickly to implement changes.
What are the benefits? Without Optimists, change might never happen. They get new ideas off the ground and enlist others in implementing the change. Optimists are upbeat, cheerful people who can help alleviate others’ anxiety.
What’s the downside? If they get too excited about too many ideas, Optimists can create confusion and chaos. They need to recognize when it’s time to stop changing. Also, Optimists run the risk of embracing a change before evaluating it thoroughly, sometimes leading to nasty surprises.
Followers don’t initiate change, but they may happily go along with any change that that seems reasonable. Followers are most comfortable when they have a leader who seems capable and experienced.
What are the benefits? Followers are often the people who actually make change possible. They seldom initiate changes, but they can be very good at following through. After the initiators have turned their attention elsewhere, Followers are still plugging along to implement the change.
What’s the downside? Followers may be too easily influenced by a strong leader. They may also fail to see needed changes if no one else points them out.
Change makes Worriers uneasy and anxious. They quickly see all the possible pitfalls and negative consequences in any new proposal. When changes are occurring, they look for reassurance from those who have higher positions or greater access to information.
What are the benefits? Worriers can keep people from running off half-cocked and making preventable mistakes. They can help others see the potential risks of a change and evaluate them objectively.
What’s the downside? If they spend too much time pointing out problems, Worriers can develop a reputation for being negative. After awhile, people will stop talking to them about new ideas. In their own lives, Worriers can become so paralyzed with anxiety that they fail to make beneficial changes.
Resisters are oppositional by nature. When a change is proposed, they automatically argue against it, finding lots of reasons why the change won’t work or why implementation should be delayed. They try to stick with the old way of doing things as long as possible.
What are the benefits? Resisters can keep an organization from “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. They may point out benefits to the old way of doing things and keep change from happening too fast.
What’s the downside? Resisters can be impediments to progress. People can get very annoyed with Resisters who refuse to go along with reasonable or needed changes.
Advocates enjoy promoting changes in which they have a strong personal belief. They may be working for a cause or for their own self-interest, but they are always emotionally committed to making change happen. They get energized by arguments and debates.
What are the benefits? Advocates often bring the energy needed to overcome barriers to change. They can excite and enlist others. Because of their strong emotional commitment, they will work very hard with little tangible reward.
What’s the downside? Because Advocates are drawn to taking sides, they often characterize those who disagree with them as “the enemy”. This can prevent realistic compromises from being considered. They sometimes get into destructive arguments instead of looking for ways to collaborate.