Adapt in a Snap...Understanding Your Change Style to Enhance Team Effectiveness

By: Lauren L. Griffeth, Ph.D.


“Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.” – Robert Gallagher


The only constant is that everything in the world we live in is always changing. Is there an App for that? Well, based on the data there might be. Each day 1,434 of new iOS apps are released totaling over half a million per year. At work this year, we have Generation Y (born after 2000) beginning to enter the workforce in small numbers, and Traditionalist (born before 1946) making their final exits from their careers and leaving us with five generations at work. Protective parenting has taken the approach from a hovering “helicopter” Mom to a forceful “lawnmower” parent challenging others who perceiving get in the way of their children’s success at school. Farmers are coping with dramatic effects of natural disasters such as Hurricane Michael that ravaged the crops of the Southeast U.S. this year, causing many producers to simply have to start over with their production operation after such a devastating loss.


Researchers have determined that there are three main change styles of how people prefer to cope with change. “Conservers, Pragmatists, and Originators” are the names given to these styles that allow us to identify with the like themes.


Conservers tend to feel most comfortable when change is slow and planned.

Pragmatists enjoy incremental change that improves processes and systems.

Originators are often the early adopters of change or may lead the change process.


When we think about our own personal preferences as it relates to change, our preferred mode of how we approach change can influence how well or not we adapt to our environment. For example, people who prefer a Conserver approach may enjoy the established system at work. People who employ this type of change style miss an opportunity to adapt quickly because of the discomfort that this type often feels when going through with change. On the flip side, those who exhibit an Originator style might embrace change or change so often that it puts their team in stress mode trying to quickly adapt to the latest and greatest change that is occurring. People with the Originator style can be viewed as controversial or rouge if they step outside of the box to quickly without the approvals of their superiors.


The Pragmatist style is a practical blend of Conserver and Originator with the individual enjoying the routine but embracing change when it is proven to be beneficial in other systems. This approach uses dialogue to figure out how to enact change with all those involve. They can often bridge the gap in communication between the conservers and the originator styles.


Do you understand your change style? In order to get to know where you might fall on the spectrum from Conserver to Originator, ask yourself how you feel when you are facing a change at work or at home? Are you more comfortable in established routines or do you enjoy the spontaneity and adrenaline rush that comes from doing something for the first time? Maybe you are somewhere in between? Do you find that you are a bridge between the folks who are uncomfortable with the change and the change itself? Noticing how you tend to act when you are faced with a change challenge can help you identify areas of growth and create a more change ready environment for your team at work and at home.

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