I recently worked for a company for 4 years that went through 2 back to back acquisitions in a 3 year period.  Talk about change! We experienced layoffs, closures of entire departments, sweeping replacements in both management and services to our customers. Our job titles and the way we answered the phones changed about every 16 months. OUCH!

Change is hard - because people have a tendency to overestimate what they currently have and underestimate the value of what they are about to gain. 

What can we do in today's environment of constant change?

We can create a culture of change leadership (pro-active) instead of a culture of change management (re-active).  As an organization goes through cycles of growth it needs to respond to the changing environment. It may sound counter-intuitive, but growth can actually occur when a company experiences closures of entire departments, layoffs and swift replacement of management and services. How?

Skilled "Change Leaders" know how to be out in front of every twist and turn with a vision to help transit their people through change. They have the ability to re-position and re-structure for future growth.

Two Theories of Change – by Michael Beer and Nitin Nohria (2009)

Theory E - Change based on economic value. Hard Approach               Theory O - Change based on organizational capability.  Soft Approach

 THEORY E –  Hard Approach  

  • Increase and maximize shareholder value – Top down change
  • Focus on cost-saving, efficiencies and systems
  • Short-term immediate results so the organization can survive
  • Plan specific - no deviation

 THEORY O - Soft Approach  

  • Improve organizational capability – bottom up change
  • Focus on corporate culture, attitudes and employee mentality
  • Focus on long term goals to change course and end up with persistent gains
  • Experiment and evolve

It’s not unrealistic to effectively tailor your solutions by using a combination of both theories to successfully lead your company through organizational change.


How Change Affects People

Shock, Denial, Anger, Fear, Confusion, Guilt, Depression - then slowly - when people start to see the change is making a difference, they begin transitioning towards gradual Acceptance. Sound familiar? Very much like the stages of grief.



Different personalities transit through the stages at different speeds. So, you’ll end up with a team in which each person thinks about change in a slightly different way and then behaves accordingly.

When overall acceptance is high – happiness

When overall acceptance is low – hostility

The 5 Personality Types in most organizations:

Smart leaders identify the personality types in their organization and provide tailored solutions to accommodate the individual needs of their teams. Use your Innovators and Early Adopters to reassure and coach the rest of your staff to move forward to commitment and rebuilding.


How has your organization handled change? Do you have room for tailored solutions? Which kind of personality type are you?