The Psychology of Change

Jonty Plewes
March 19, 20193 mins read

“Change can be more successfully navigated with the power of Psychological Insight”

Recently, I attended a seminar which examined the challenges businesses are facing when navigating change, hosted by Cameron Nott, Managing Director of The Myer – Briggs Company. Cameron explored the principles behind the Psychology of Change and the models and strategies leadership teams needed to adopt in order to successfully embed change.

Nott discussed the evolution of the workplace and the journey employees have taken from an industrial / factory focused workplace, towards a more collaborative management approach. We are no longer being siloed into single roles, in single teams but increasingly becoming members to cross-functional teams, matrix structures, various projects and scrums, enabling us to better leverage the strengths of others around us.

What contributes to the successful adoption of change? 

It is no doubt that technology is far and wide the biggest disruptor within businesses. However, there are three key characteristics typical to companies that are both driving and benefiting from technological change.

  1. Company Structure: adopting a flat, mission-driven, network of diverse teams
  2. Employee Orientation: Viewing people as assets, investing in their experiences as well as   providing continuous training and feedback
  3. Leader Orientation: Transformational Leadership, sets the vision, builds the culture and develops people.

These successes are a result of moving away from hierarchical, efficiency driven, transactional managers that are promoted based on hard skills (rather than today’s coveted soft skills).

How to successfully navigate change?

Firstly, Businesses must acknowledge that everyone’s experience of Change is different, this is paramount in anticipating and overcoming resistance to change.

It is critical that businesses effectively manage the transitions employees will go through when experiencing change. Nott identified three stages of Change employees will transition through.     

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Secondly, it’s imperative to address all factors that may impact change, including tangible and intangible factors across both organisational and personal levels.
 
Tangible factors include the strategy and organisational structure of the business as well as the role responsibilities and reporting authority. 

Intangible factors cover organisational culture and leadership styles, as well as the commitment and personality of employees. 

Nott suggested that the best way to ensure employees are enthusiastic about change is to focus on the intangible characteristics of the workplace. By understanding and responding to the psychology of those involved, businesses are better able to successfully anticipate the needs of their employees and ensure the seamless adoption of change. It is imperative to address the communication needs, decision-making preferences, the resilience and agility of those involved in the change in order to account for the intangible factors. The organisational culture, leadership skills, employee engagement rate, relationships and personality traits of employees are of the highest importance when successfully navigating change.

What skills are in Demand? 

Businesses are increasingly having to rely on a range of human capabilities which are not often visible on a CV. Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, Imagination, Intuition, Ethics and Complex Problem Solving are skills required to succeed in today’s workforce. Essentially, moving away from technical skills, towards higher order people skills.

Key Takeaways:

  • Organisations that embrace change have a similar structure, leader orientation and attitude towards employees.
  • Organisations must support people through ‘ENDINGS’ and the ‘NEUTRAL ZONE, enabling them to transition to ‘NEW BEGINNINGS’ and to be constantly discovering new ways of working together
  • Remember: Change is Personal. Companies must possess an understanding of people’s psychological needs and ensure the intangible factors of the workforce are the forefront of change strategy.

What factors are enhancing your change delivery? 

If you would like to hear more about the seminar or if you would like to discuss Change opportunities in the market, please get in touch here or email me at wcourt@morganmckinley.com.au

Jonty Plewes's picture
Associate Director | Transformation & Technology
jplewes@morganmckinley.com

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