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Adapting To Change

Everyone has different ways of adjusting to change. Some people fear change or see it as an imposition of power. Others see it as innovation and willingly accept change as an inevitable part of life. Employees who have the skills to easily adapt to a new strategy help your leaders carry out changes successfully and create smoother transitions.

Adapting to Change measures how willing and accepting employees are to a new process. When a change is put into place in your organization, do your employees show hesitation and opposition? Or, do employees take the new strategy head-on and show confidence in the face of change?


The group of scales that make up a competency are shown visually in an assessment as a competency model. Colors indicate whether or not a candidate falls in a preferred range for each scale.

Our experience and research have shown that certain personality characteristics help employees adjust to change within their organization, while others hinder their ability to efficiently transition to a new process. These four traits are keys to understanding how employees react to change.

  1. Realistic

    When a leader is enforcing a change in strategy, is the team willing to practice new methods, or are they resistant to new ways of doing things?Behaviors seen in people who fall on the high end of this scale may negatively impact how employees react to a change. With a strong tendency to rely on past experience and proven methods, these workers have a harder time functioning when changes are happening around them. Employees here are usually less flexible or even unyielding when it comes to implementing a change in their work process. Change generally makes them uncomfortable, causing resistance to new ideas.

    Imaginative and open-minded people fall on the lower end of this scale. These employees are willing to adapt to change, and have an easier time adjusting to new processes. Being open to new ideas and suggestions helps employees successfully transition through a change.

    Although being too much of a wishful thinker could be detrimental for those in charge of leading a change, employees on the lower end of this spectrum are in general more willing to accept change as a normal part of business. These employees usually show support and initiative when a new plan is implemented.

  2. Need for Freedom

    The amount of freedom an employee needs affects how imposed upon they feel when they are given a new process to follow, and in turn how they perform when these changes are underway.Those who show little need for personal freedom tend to score on the lower end. Comfortable working in a structured environment, these employees readily accept regulations and directions from their superiors as well as their teammates. Although they may not perform their best in a loosely structured situation, these employees are more likely to adapt to changes implemented by their director.

    The more freedom an employee prefers, the less likely they are to want to follow change initiatives. People like the way they do things, and want the choice of continuing on as they are. When a new process is implemented, these employees may feel they are being imposed upon, and unable to perform the way they like. Depending on what type of change is made, for example adding more structure to a loosely-based process, these employees could be resistant to work within the new rules.

    In this scale’s case, a person on the low end is likely to easily and willingly accept change in the organization. They understand that taking direction is a part of the job, and is needed in order to make improvements.

  3. Frustration Tolerance

    Change is often accompanied with opposition and obstacles. It is the leaders’ job to enforce the changes and encourage their team to practice them. It is the team’s job, as individual employees, to persist on with the change, even when things don’t go as planned.When an employee scores on the lower end of Frustration Tolerance, it means they may be negatively affected when setbacks or challenges occur. These people are less likely to adapt to changes since they see it as a new obstacle that they must overcome. More so, if a change is implemented and something doesn’t work out as it should, these employees have a harder time adjusting to and continuing on with the new process.

    On the higher end of the scale, employees are expected to take the change head-on. If an unforeseen problem is encountered, they have a relatively quick bounce-back time and continue on course without a hitch. Because they are more tolerant of frustration, they have an easier time adapting to a new strategy plan.

  4. Multi-Tasking

    Oftentimes, when a change is undertaken, employees need the ability to juggle various tasks in order to successfully move into the new ways of doing things. This could involve restructuring the team, assigning new and different tasks than before, and taking on a new challenge overall.Knowing how your employees might react to taking on multiple jobs at once through a change initiative helps to better prepare them for adapting to the change.Those who fall on the low end of this scale are typically more comfortable doing repetitive tasks and at a steady pace. They prefer a static work environment, which could become a problem when a change is put into place. Because an occurring change is dynamic in nature, employees who function better doing the same things on a day-to-day basis may feel overwhelmed when new and different tasks are placed on them.

    On the other hand, those who enjoy having different projects to work on adjust to change much easier. Because they’re more likely to get bored doing the same things all the time, they’re more comfortable switching between multiple projects at a time. These employees are likely to take change head-on and practice it successfully.

Since these characteristics deal with how people feel towards dynamic situations and how comfortable they are in dealing with something new and different, they help give insight to how employees react when a change initiative occurs in your organization.

When a change happens in an organization, it is up to both the leaders and their employees to carry it out. Employees need the willingness to try something new, and stick with it even when setbacks happen in the process. They understand that change shouldn’t be seen as a burden or imposition, but a new task to help improve the company.


To learn more about using competency models to predict success, download our Competency Spotlight eBooks for Corporate Managers, Retail Managers, or Restaurant Managers.

The Competency Spotlight series focuses on the personality traits measured by OutMatch assessments, and how these traits impact performance. No one measure can say with 100% accuracy how an employee will behave, but considering these competencies can help you identify candidates that are ‘prewired’ to be successful in a particular job type.

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