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Change Orientation

Do you like or dislike surprises? Do you like or dislike routine? If you travel to work, do you take the same route every time to get there? Your answers to these questions will indicate whether you might have a preference for sameness or difference in the areas of your life. We are talking about change here folks, and it seems that we all have a preferred way of dealing with it; even if that way is contextual.

Dealing with Change

The experts tell us that change is inevitable; well, except for vending machines in my experience! But, they are right, aren’t they? All the usual rules seem to apply here. You know, like the one about change being the only constant etc.
Change is obviously a big subject. At any one time, many organisations are implementing change initiatives; with differing degrees of success. Now, you do not need to be a genius to recognise that we are living in a time of great change and upheaval. Perhaps we always were, it’s just more pronounced now with the pandemic changing the way that so many of us are now living and working. One of the key aspects of the current environment is an increased level of uncertainty, where all relevant information is not available to us in order to make decisions.

Change Orientation

certainty and uncertainty as Core Human Needs

Tony Robbins cites certainty and uncertainty as being two of the six human needs that we all have. Robbins points out that we all need some certainty, or comfort, in our life. Paradoxically, we all need some uncertainty or variety if we are to live our lives to the limit. He suggests that

“the quality of our lives is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty that we can comfortably live with”


In a similar way to Tony Robbins the late John Finley, an English historian and mathematician is quoted as saying that

“Maturity of mind is the capacity to endure uncertainty”.


Contextual Preference to Change

Uncertainty, or change, fascinates me. While you might have a preference for sameness or difference, as I mentioned at the start of this blog, I believe it is contextual. Let me explain. My Eagle Training colleague Martin Eldon was once delivering an NLP workshop during which he asked the delegates how long they had worked for their companies.

One woman said that she had worked for her employer for over 20 years. Hearing this, one of her fellow delegates said, “20 years. That must be really boring!” Well, it seems it wasn’t for the woman in question.

Interestingly, later in the same session, the man who had shared his thoughts with the group let it be known that he had a timeshare in the Canary Islands and had gone there for his holiday every year for 25 years. I’m not sure if the woman did say, “25 years. That must be really boring”, but I bet she was tempted!

Some folks prefer ‘sameness’ patterns. They like to do the same thing over and over again, looking for continuity, stability, and predictability in certain aspects of their life. By contrast, there are some who seek variety, adventure, and the unknown; people who like to change things. This is why some people like to change their jobs, homes, cars, even partners fairly regularly while others like to keep things pretty much the same.

change orientation

Our colleagues at Advance Consultancy have made change orientation one of the 7 facets in their Suitability to Collaborate psychometric. It’s obviously important to have an awareness of our change preferences in our work life; especially when we are working on big projects. I thought it would be useful for you if I shared the Advance criteria and you can judge for yourself where you would be.

high change orientation

If you are a person with a high change orientation you would probably regard change positively and be comfortable with uncertainty where definite information is incomplete. As a result, you will probably modify your approach in the face of new demands and often take advantage of opportunities offered by ambiguous situations. You are flexible and likely to support change initiatives. You like new ideas and concepts but may seek novelty at the expense of stability and, as a consequence, impose change on others.

If this sounds like you, your suggested development task is to engage others in the change process achieving full value from change initiatives through successful implementation.

moderate change orientation

If you have a moderate change orientation your approach to change is likely to be different depending on how you perceive the situation. At times you will feel comfortable with change and will adapt your approach to suit the changing circumstances and support change initiatives. On other occasions, you might feel uneasy at the prospect of change, unwilling to take a flexible approach and upset by the changes others want to make to your circumstances or plans.

If this sounds like you, your suggested development task is to understand what factors influence your reaction to change. Honestly appraise changes you have resisted that could have improved performance. Aim to respond constructively to future change initiatives. At times, this may require you to step out of your “comfort zone”.

low change orientation

If you have a low level of change orientation you probably prefer a working environment that is routine and predictable. You often feel uneasy in new situations and might find it difficult to cope in changing environments. As a result, you tend to be easily upset if others change the way you have arranged or organised things and others may therefore perceive you as inflexible in your approach.

If this sounds like you, your suggested development task is to accept that change is a positive and inevitable feature of your workplace and become proactively involved in improvement activities.

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