How And When To Change Your Preferences
In this post, there is a short questionnaire to complete that examines your change preferences. We also consider how we operate in each mode, the implications of different profiles, the differences between men and women, the impact on working relationships, and the need to focus on strengths and develop compensating strategies for weakness. We conclude by considering the team dimension.
Producing Your Profile
To produce your profile, please complete the questionnaire set
out on in following the guidelines.
Questionnaire On Change Preference
For each of the areas covered, please choose the phrase, word, action and so on with which you identify most. Give that preference 4 marks. In each category, there are four choices, so you need to allocate 3 marks to your next choice, then 2, and finally 1 mark for the item with which you identify least.
Let us take the first example, where you imagine that you have total freedom to choose between four different jobs, as set out below. In this case, I have chosen social worker (4 marks), followed by researcher (3 marks) followed by writer (2 marks), with administrator bringing up the rear with the final single point.
1. Jobs (examples)
- Social worker
Please complete the form in this way, then fill out the scoring sheet. To do this, transfer each mark for each set of choices to one of the four categories LD, CC, PF, PC. For example, with the choices made in the example above, the A mark of 3 goes in the LD column, the B mark of 1 goes in the CC column, the C mark of 2 in the PC column and the D mark of 4 in the PF column. Thus, when scoring, find the letter and put the mark corresponding to the letter in the space next to it.
Then, add up the figures in each column, entering the totals at the foot in the spaces provided. Your totals should add up to 120. Finally, draw a line for each total in its respective column in the profile chart on page 111, following the example.
- Social worker
Understanding Change Preferences
Figure 11.1 sets out the four change preferences and Figure 11.2 explains the model, based on Ned Herrmann’s divisions of the brain, and shows what the initials you saw on the scoring sheet stand for.
The first point to make is that, apart from one or two exceptional people, we operate in different modes at different times when experiencing change. However, we may have a strong preference for a particular mode, in which case we are likely to rely on that approach most of the time.
Before interpreting the profile as a whole, let us first look at each mode as if we were operating in that mode, and consider what that means in terms of approach.
Let us take an example. We shall use the same example for each mode so that the differences between them can be highlighted. Let us assume that we have been told by the personnel department that there may be a promotion for us from, say, assistant manager in our section to manager.
Logical Detached (LD)
In this mode, we are unemotional and have a rational perspective (see Figure 11.3). We will be interested in the facts of the matter, and the implications, trying to make sense of things. We won’t be challenging the nature and dimensions of the change, nor considering the emotional impact on ourselves or others, but, rather, focusing on an analysis of the event and what it means.
As a logical detached person, the promotion makes obvious sense in career progression terms. You would want to find out such things as when the promotion was to occur, why you had been selected, what it meant in terms of extra pay and non-financial benefits; you would want to check that your understanding of the role and responsibilities was clear, whether or not there were any rivals for the job, what the selection process and timing would be, what the probability of getting the job would be and so on – all the logical questions. If the answers made sense, you would be happy.
The LD approach is closed in the sense that we accept the change for what it is, then ask the questions that resolve the issues arising from the change.
In real life, we would not stay in this mode throughout, particularly when we first learn about a change. If you have a very high LD score, and there is a big gap between that and the next score, the chances are that you are a very logical, emotionally controlled person, and would react in the way suggested.
Cautious Control (CC)
In this mode our reaction is fundamentally emotional, negative and self-centred (see Figure 11.4). We instinctively resist the change because it necessarily disrupts the status quo, with which we are happy. Depending on the nature of the change, we may deny its existence, as can happen with sudden and traumatic changes.
We are in a fight to control our environment, under threat from the change. We automatically tend to accentuate the negative, expressing our views logically and, if necessary, illogically. If we fight in vain, and the change is forced upon us, then we try to minimize the damage and maximize the connection to the present and past.
So, if you were a cautious control person and heard about the possible promotion, your instant internal reaction would be ‘No thanks!’ Politically, that might not be possible to state baldly, and so you might demur, mentioning how happy you are in your current role, and how good you are at that job, or you might try to postpone, suggesting the timing is not quite right – a year or so later, you would absolutely love promotion, or you might go with the ‘I don’t feel I am quite ready for it, haven’t developed the right skills yet’ supplementary approach.
However, if your fight is in vain, and you are promoted, then you would have a pragmatic and organized approach so that the new environment would become comfortable as soon as possible.
In this mode, we tend to accept the change, rather than challenge, explore or resist the experience; we react emotionally rather than intellectually, and our primary focus is not ourselves but others who are affected by the change (see Figure 11.5).
Our emotional needs are likely to be satisfied by sharing the experience as far as possible, thereby gaining support and providing support to those also affected.
Taking the example of the possible promotion, in PF mode, you would be likely to be pleased and want to share the good news with colleagues, friends and relatives. You would be concerned about the impact it would have on all the staff in the section, how they would react to your more senior status in the same department, particularly former peers, who would be put in a subordinate role to you.
Positive Creative (PC)
Considering the possible promotion, as a PC person, you would be interested in making sure you knew what the job entailed, you would be enthusiastic, you would explore the boundaries and constraints, challenge them, consider new approaches (as, in this instance, you would have a good idea of the current job, as it is held by your boss), new ways of meeting the objectives and new objectives to meet.
In real life, people who only use this mode would probably not get the job! The likely reaction of a boss (to whom, inevitably, a PC person would be talking at some stage) would be negative as such a subordinate seems to question and challenge that boss’ approach (this is likely to be the perception of the boss, though not the intention of the subordinate with their PC hat on).
Now that we have looked at each mode, we next consider your own profile and the messages it brings for how you manage change.
Understanding Your Approach
The questionnaire forced you to choose, and so the profile indicates which mode or modes you prefer. The stronger the preference, in relative terms, the more likely you are to adopt the particular preferred mode or modes when experiencing change.
Additionally, the profile indicates the extent to which you are likely to initiate change. For instance, if you have a score of, say, 36 or more in PC (positive creative) and 24 or under in CC (cautious control), showing that PC is a strong mode and CC is a weak mode, then you will often be an initiator of change. With the reverse scoring, however, you would maintain the status quo.
We now consider five profiles and highlight the key implications of them. This will help your understanding of the implications of your own profile. The conclusions indicated by the profile were confirmed in one-to-one conversations with the people who produced them (all names have been changed).
I have emboldened the strongest preference and italicized the weakest, which will be a consistent approach throughout these examples.
Hazel’s preferred mode is people-focused (PF), with positive creative (PC) and cautious control (CC) in support or secondary. The gap of 8 between PF and PC/CC is significant. The logical detached (LD) approach is only occasionally used.
Hazel appears to fundamentally care for others and be concerned about how others will be affected by change – that is, she is emotionally involved rather than intellectually involved. The total of the ‘emotional’ scores (CC + PF; 30 + 38 = 68) is significantly higher than the total intellectual scores (LD + PC; 22 + 30 = 52).
Within the emotional side, the desire to be in control and safe is quite strong. This could lead to tension when Hazel’s feelings for others and her exciting creative side conflict with the need to stay in control, keep both feet on the ground and connect back to the present and the past.
Within the intellectual side, there is a preference for the possibilities of change and excitement with change itself rather than a detached analysis of the consequences of change.
For Hazel, the kind of change that would be most acceptable to her would need to:
- be exciting;
- be connected to the past;
- ensure that she stays in control;
- occur with another person.
Hazel would find it tough to change circumstances without support. The high PF score does indicate that Hazel could be bullied into change by a strong personality with whom she is emotionally involved.
As regards initiating change, the difference between her PC and CC scores is exactly 0, and, in the absence of the involvement of another person (a shared venture), she is unlikely to be very proactive.
A difference of one or two points between scores is not significant. We see that Rodney has two preferred modes – people focused and positive creative, with logical detached in support. There is a very low cautious control score (the minimum possible is 12).
Rodney is an individual who likes change and will often initiate it (the difference between the PC and CC scores is a very large 24). He is happy to involve others or at least one other (high PF). There is a strong intellectual bias (68 – 52 = 16) combining both the creative and evaluative aspects (LD = 30).
With the very low CC score, he would be able to react well to traumatic events by giving and receiving emotional support, using rationalization and the strong PC aspect. He would be able to look beyond and around the event and generate options and approaches outside the limitations and perceived realities, which would bind someone with a high CC score.
However, another aspect of the low CC score is that there may well be occasions when Rodney is controlled by, rather than controlling, change. The low perceived preference for control can result in the absence of control.
Mabel’s preferred modes are logical detached and cautious control, with a significant gap between those modes and the less used people-focused and positive creative. Mabel doesn’t like change – she resists it and tries to control her environment. She rarely initiates change and is not inclined to be very supportive of others experiencing it.
When change does occur, she will try to rationalize it (LD = 35) rather than challenge or modify it, and focus on producing order from the temporary chaos created. There is a certain brittleness in this profile, with the emphasis on the self, the past and detached logical thought.
The kind of change that would be most acceptable to Mabel would be gradual, strongly connected to the present and the past and where she felt in control throughout and could understand and accept the logic of it all.
Unlike Rodney, Mabel would find traumatic change particularly difficult to handle. This is, in fact, because she suffered traumatic change in the past, which has had a significant and, to date, permanent impact on her approach to change.
Joanne has people-focused and positive creative as preferred modes, with cautious control in strong support, and very little preference for logical detached.
All the scores, apart from LD, are in the moderate range, though at the top end. There is an emotional bias (67 compared with 53) and a preference for exploring rather than evaluating change. The moderate CC score – only 5 less than PF – implies that she would tend to initiate change that was not too radical; evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
The low LD score suggests that she does not think through the impact and implications of change and could be caught out by unanticipated consequences. The PF score indicates support for others also involved in change, and that she has a desire to share the experience.
Reaction to traumatic change would be quite testing (CC = 31), but would be helped by the PF and PC strengths.
All Karl’s scores are in the moderate range, and the gap between the highest and lowest is only 6.
There is a slight intellectual bias (64 compared to 56) and a moderate difference between PC and CC of 6. Karl, like Joanne, will tend to initiate change of an evolutionary nature rather than the risky or revolutionary sort. Unlike Joanne, when experiencing the change, he is likely to evaluate the impact and implications, as well as explore the possibilities and challenge the boundaries.
However, as implied by the scores, Karl is unlikely to push or challenge too far or need a lot of control, and will only provide moderate support to others involved.
Before looking at the team dimension, it is worth considering if there is any gender difference in our change preferences.