Change Management Strategies: Change And Personality

By Harvey Robbins

Back on March 25, 2002, I wrote a newsletter on personalities. But I didn't go far enough when it came to telling how these personalities effect the way change takes place. Personality type naturally plays a role in one's ability to meet change head on. You remember the grid that I described showing Controllers, Promoters, Supporters, and Analyticals. The same grid, with a little change, tells a story about change potentials.

Each type is perfectly capable of normal change. The center of the grid could be shaded in as "OK about change". At their extreme edges, however, like when a Controller is a very strong Controller, or an Analytical is a very strong Analytical - pronounced differences become apparent.

Drivers love to lead, and true to leading implies change, so it is logical that Drivers have a special knack for changing. Pure Drivers are metaphiles, cheerful embracers of the new and untested. But, the change has to make sense or it's not worth doing.

Expressives like to play. Their natural mode is exploration, and that is an intrinsically useful part of change. Pure Expressives are metamaniacs, so enamored of change that they have to be changing in order to function. They live in a world of constant change. They embrace change to the point that if they feel nervous if things are not changing regularly. In leadership positions, Expressives force change whether it makes sense or not…just 'cause.

Amiables are the people everyone else loves to have around. They are the perfect antidote in a marriage to a strong Driver - they smile, they shrug, they love, they forgive. Not exactly hard chargers. Thus, Amiables have a tendency to be metaphobes, people disinclined by nature to enjoy change much. They'll change, though, as long as others do too.

Analyticals are usually right, but they can be awfully tight about it. They are the perfectionists of the world, dotting every "i" and crossing every "t". At the extreme, they become metamorons, people to whom change is completely unacceptable - because change ruins their data, their level thinking field.

What does it mean? It means you don't load a change initiative team with metamaniacs - there will be hamburger all over the highway. Neither do you assign a metamoron the task of leading a team in a pilot change project.

Most teams contain people from more than one group. This is not a bad thing. A team with a metaphile on it will likely galvanize everyone else to follow. A team with a metamaniac on it will benefit from the reassuring foot-dragging effect of a metaphobe.

As always, the beauty of teams is the diversity of their members. A team of all metamorons - all people with a strong Analytical bent, like a lot of functional teams in finance, engineering, and the other analytical arts - is going to have a hell of a time moving off the dime.

By the way, in my practice, I have learned that not many people enjoy being called metamorons. Just remember that only extreme, off-the-chart Analyticals qualify for this august title. Chances are, you're much too balanced to deserve such an epithet.

About The Author:
A world class speaker, author, and educator, Dr. Robbins focuses on transformational leadership by providing leadership skill training, team building / team leadership training, management development training, and executive coaching. See more on http://www.harveyrobbins.com

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