Behaviors Have to Change Before Advances Can Be Made

Time for Change, pixel deluxe, iStock, October 2014
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If you read my blog posts you know that I write about changes in the workplace that are likely to occur in the next 10 or so years. Many of these changes are driven by technology. Many of these changes, however, have to be driven by human behavior. Some people just don’t want to change. In each organization we are likely to find four different types of people. The mix of these people will determine how quickly your organization embraces the changes that are hurtling towards us.

Four Types

In his book Future Smart, futurist James Canton describes the four mindsets you will find in any workplace. These are the Traditionalist, the Maintainer, the Adapter and the Trailblazer. What is the mix you have in your organization?

First is the Traditionalist, who gives you all the reasons things should not change. They are the overt resisters of change and see no reason to innovate. We often associate these people with older generations but that is not a 1 to 1 relationship. I have known many people, including younger people, that would be described this way.

Second is the Maintainer who is the person that on the outside says yes but they mean no. They are fearful of change but don’t want to be perceived as being resistant. They slow down innovation all the time. They want to study things longer or don’t think the group is ready for change. I have come across these people as well during my tenure in HR. Many people in HR are of this ilk. These people are the ones who are your biggest roadblocks to progress. They work behind the scenes to undermine progress.

The Adapter is someone who is ready to change as long as that change provides value and solutions. They are not “change for change’s sake” kind of people. They realize things need to change, but as Canton says, “they are reluctant change agents.” In HR these are the people that eventually get new systems put in place. They are the ones that get that legacy HRIS updated and coordinated with an applicant tracking system. They are the ones that have reluctantly started to use Twitter and LinkedIn to find new candidates because they have been to enough conferences talking about the important of this method in finding talent. They are the ones that realize that maybe texting is the way to communicate with millennials and have started to develop a method of doing so. They are the ones that read about “progress” companies and start to think “maybe we should try that.”

In the Trailblazer, according to Canton, we find the person that leads change. They are the innovators in your organization. Canton describes the way innovators think as:

They are open. They explore. They envision the future, have long-term forecasts, are not afraid of breaking rules, and are above all else, they are courageous, even in the face of failure, criticism, and disaster. They have the capacity to change Fast, fail Fast, and succeed Fast. They are always looking for opportunity to embrace emerging innovations to create value.

These are the people who have changed their behavior and are the models for others in the organization. Unfortunately in far too many organizations these people are too few. They are the people who may not “fit in.” They break the rules. Without support and without seeing progress they are unlikely to stay.

What Does Your Organization Look Like?

If you are in HR you need to assess your organization and its readiness for behavior change. Where do your employees fall into the four classifications listed? Without Trailblazers and Adapters you will not be getting the behavior change your organization is going to need to be ready for 2020 or 2025. You can buy all the technology you want, but if you don’t have the people to use it, it will be wasted resources until you have turnover.

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