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Hypothesis for a Doorway to Smoother Change part 3

  • 28 March 2012
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

Chris Warren explained how differently people can respond to change depending on their DISC type. In this last article, Chris links the Change Cycle from danger to opportunity to your personal primary DISC style. Assess yourself to see where you tend to get stuck in change...and get moving again with the nudge factors!

The conflict and frustration that many of us feel when dealing with our own feelings and with others' behaviour in change situations is partly about trying to handle changing values, attitudes, standards. For example, in our Western society the more traditional values of making things as permanent as possible are now conflicting with what is increasingly becoming a high-tech, throw-away, transient based society. The values and other underlying determinators of behaviour that we encounter from those we meet in change situations will, in many cases, be fundamental and far reaching. Not only will we be facing behavioural characteristics that have been formulated from 'yesterday's' principles, we will also be dealing with the new situation anxiety. It is important that we identify and understand such matters when addressing change management. Applying this understanding will enable us to help others in their struggle to get things in perspective in a changing world.

DISC style and change cycle

One way in which we might better identify and understand the difficulties experienced by people in a transition situation is to attempt to line up their behavioural style and pattern with the demands of the different change cycle phases. The concept, outlined below in a very basic format, uses the self-perceived behavioural descriptors from the DISC prime behavioural styles and aligns these with the core quadrants of the change cycle. For illustration purposes, use the questionnaire to assess your own profile. Such an instrument, to be reliable, would need to be further developed and validated, the example given here is simply to illustrate the concept of linking behavioural styles and change cycle phases.

Assess yourself

Click this link (link will open in new window) to assess yourself and see your primary behavioural style in change.

Suggested Change Cycle Nudge Factors

People who get stuck in the Denial stage may need to be given more:

  • Security in practical matters
  • Warning of changes (no sudden surprises)
  • Personal attention
  • Less responsibility
  • Exact details of what needs to be done
  • Stable or controlled environment
  • Familiar rules, situations, etc. with which to identify
  • Reassurance (based on facts)
  • To be part of a group
  • Patient, detailed explanation of a need for the change

People who get stuck in the Resistance stage may need to be given more:

  • Sincere friendship
  • Understanding about their feelings
  • Security in personal relationships
  • Agreeable, comfortable environment
  • Appreciation for their support (private not public)
  • Opportunity to state their view on "how" to do things
  • Chance to adjust to new relationships
  • Support for the importance of their part in the change
  • Identity with and within a group
  • Areas of specialisation

People who get stuck in the Exploration stage may need to be given more:

  • Social recognition and importance
  • Opportunity to be popular and have fun
  • Freedom to talk openly with others
  • Freedom from control and detail
  • Favourable conditions and incentives to achieve specific targets
  • Public recognition of their abilities
  • Opportunity to demonstrate their ability
  • Opportunity to help others
  • Chance to try to motivate others
  • Responsibility for developing and expanding ideas

People who get stuck in the Commitment stage may need to be given more:

  • Authority to get things moving
  • Challenges and difficult assignments
  • Prestige and formal importance
  • Freedom to do it their way
  • Varied activities but with logical arguments
  • Opportunity to achieve results and succeed
  • Definition of broad objectives (not too much detail)
  • Told "what" is needed not "how" to do it
  • Direct answers (brief and to the point)

Competing Values, Resistance and Style

Let's take a look again at the Competing Values Framework that's the basis of the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument. The DISC risk-caution scale resembles the flexibility-stability polarity in the CVF. The DISC people-task orientation could correspond somewhat with the internal-external focus in the CVF. What if we paste the Change Cycle in the CVF/DISC grids, trying to integrate all three?

We get an interesting model... Again, this is not validated, but we offer it for the purpose of reflection, learning and debate. These seem to be some similiarities:

Competing Values Disc

Although the structure of each model does not allow one to be directly superimposed on the other, it does seem likely (see above) that some DISC behavioural styles fit better into a certain culture type than others. Culture is a dynamic group process, it involves all individuals and their primary behavioural styles and behavioural patterns. So, the DISC model integrated with the CVF can start to ask the important question, - what do your colleagues bring to the table of change and, in particular, what do they bring to each phase of the change cycle - and why? Of course, at this point, perception steps into the arena and so we also need to address the question - what do our colleagues think they are bringing to the table of change? As a broad generalisation, people don't go around purposefully behaving negatively: whatever they do they believe they are doing it for positive reasons, even if our perception is that their behaviour is obstructive.

Also, having assessed yourself, you may gain more insights into where you tend to get stuck in change. If, for example, you have a steady behavioural style and you're working just fine in an overall Clan Culture, you might be prone to deny the necessity of change. Conscientious style-people who prefer clear, well-organized and detail-oriented departments, may resist change. They may hide in cubicles and wait for the change to blow over. Whereas dominant-style people who like to get things done and who seem to thrive on some competition, may start to implement the new opportunities that the change brings. Influencing style people can handle the dynamics of adhocracy culture well enough and may be more likely to experiment with change.

As you can see, there is considerable work to be done to develop a reliable and valid model, but our thoughts are that somewhere in amongst the well tried and tested DISC and CVF models, lie sources of information that, when combined, will bring greater clarity and less trauma to change situations.

We're looking forward to your responses, thoughts and comments!

Chris Warren in association with Marcella Bremer