Attitudes and Accelerating Change
The current work environment experiences rapid and
frequent changes. There are technological changes, as
well as mergers, acquisitions, expansions, and
reorganizations. Today’s employees not only
have to cope with recurring change but also are
required to constantly grow and learn new skills just
to keep up. This often leads to employee resistance
to the change process—but employees don’t
resist change, they resist being changed. So, how can
a company change employees’ attitudes toward
change and accelerate change?
A Model for Success
three phases to managing change in a highly dynamic
and effective organization, as follows:
- Relationship effectiveness.
- Organizational effectiveness.
Phase 1: Self-Understanding
cornerstone of effective change is
self-understanding.1 In order to motivate,
facilitate, and manage change, a change leader must
first recognize his/her personal beliefs, values and
convictions, and how he/she reveals them to others.
The energy of learning and growth in
self-understanding is directed inward and is
self-reflective and personal.
Phase 2: Team Change Effectiveness
Once the motivation and values of the individual are
understood, he/she is capable of turning his/her
focus toward team goals and processes. This is where
a leader can direct the energy of a team, instead of
individuals, toward implementing and sustaining
dynamic change within the scope of his/her
Phase 3: Organizational Change
Once the team has mastered
the team dynamics of change and everyone is moving in
a positive change direction, the opportunity for
collaboration, influence, and creative solutions will
extend past the boundaries of the team. By looking
beyond what directly affects the scope of the team,
Phase 3 moves from the external team focus to the
external global focus. The focus of the team is
secure, so the team has the ability to look at the
big picture and factor in the needs and expectations
of the customer. This is the time for truly creative
thinking, celebration of victories, and continuous
improvement and change.
Resistance to Change
is good for a company, why is there so much
resistance? Change is uncomfortable for many reasons.
It is human nature to resent, fear, and resist
change.2 Resistance is caused mainly by an emotional
response to looking at the unknown and by the loss of
the familiar.3 Resistance can come from two main
areas of concern: ability and comfort. Ability issues
include fear of the unknown, a loss of power or
control, and a perceived threat to job security.
Comfort issues include a loss of status or a
disturbance in social patterns, such as having to
work with different people or in a different
For organizations to be successful in the future,
an investment in employee development provides
opportunities for growth and change. Investment in
change skills not only helps change employee
attitudes, but also improves the speed at which
change can occur. If employees have the tools to
understand their own resistance, they can then gain
control over their fears and embrace the changes.
Training is an important investment, not a costly
The M.I.R.R.O.R. of
Because changing the attitudes
of employees is a goal for positive and effective
change, it is important to start with helping
employees improve self-knowledge. Once they look in
the “mirror” and resolve their own issues
of change, they will be able to move to Phase 2,
“Team Change Effectiveness.” Change is a
process, not an event. Start with individuals and
help them hold the “mirror” up (see
motivation for behaviors can help employees reverse
their problematic attitudes and behaviors. The basic
nature of humans is to be complex and inconsistent.4
In other words, the one thing we can always count on
is that we don’t always react predictably.
Given the same situation, we can act differently. For
example, consider being in a meeting. In one meeting,
you may feel that it is valuable and important. The
very next week in a follow-up meeting, you feel
irritated, annoyed, and impatient. Understanding
motivation helps you understand this difference in
behaviors and makes it possible to reverse behaviors
I have created a model for helping change
attitudes and accelerate change in organizations by
combining theoretical models and learning from three
well-known theories. It is based on the work of
renowned psychologist Professor Michael Apter,
combined with some of the emotional intelligence
theories from Daniel Goleman and brain dominance
theory from Ned Herrmann.
The Four Domains of
Reversal theory points to
four general domains of experience—two attitude
pairs (internal motivations) and two behavior pairs
(external motivations) (see Figure 2). These
fundamental domains of experience are always present
and unavoidable during our waking life. The attitude
pairs are the “Means-Ends” and
“Rules” domains. The behavior pairs are
the “Transactions” and
“Relationships” domains. They are defined
- Means-Ends—The purpose for engaging in an
- Rules—The things that govern what we do
and what we are allowed to do that includes our
internal motivations for expectations, routines,
etiquette, and status quo.
- Transactions—How we interact with
something and how we do it in a particular
- Relationships—For whom we are making the
change and whether the focus is on others or
Experience Domain Pairs
Focuses on the goal
("ends") with little concern about the
process for getting there.
Studying for a
Your goal is to get certified; studying
is just the process to get there. It
doesn’t matter if the subject
matter is boring or something about which
you care. Certification is the
Focuses on the here
and now ("means"), where the end
isn’t as important as the
Eating a piece
of your favorite cake.
The process of savoring the flavor and
enjoying the cake is your motivation.
Worrying about the calories is of no
change, the most common motivational
state within the mean-ends domain is
"serious." Too often, the focus is on
getting through the change, and that
focus needs to be redirected toward the
"playful" state more of the time. Finding
ways to be more playful and less serious
will help employees improve their
attitudes toward the change.
Focuses on fitting
in with and adapting to those around
Starting a new
You watch what others at the office say
and do so that you will fit within the
Focuses on the
internal need to be different,
challenging, and oppositional.
in a meeting.
Everyone else agrees on the situation,
but you take the opposite view. You want
to create your own identity separate from
Note : During
change, the "rebellious" state is most
common. Although the rebellious state has
a negative side, it also can be an
effective addition to change;
understanding the "other side" is more
valuable than not knowing what
they’re thinking. Encouraging the
rebellious state–instead of praying
for the "conforming" state–helps to
create faster and more effective change
Focuses on the need
to be in charge, to win, and to be
strong. Interaction through power and
purchase of a new car.
You want to get the best deal and "win"
feelings, caring, and
deserving employee promoted.
You feel the pride and joy of having
helped the employee reach his/her full
Note : During
change, many employees move to the
"mastery" state because they fear losing
the control. Giving them a reason to be
in the "sympathy" state—-by giving
them a role and part in the
change—-will help them embrace
Focuses on judging
the outcome of an action primarily in
terms of how it affects one’s
hurt by something someone says to
Focuses on judging
the outcome of an action primarily in
terms of how it affects something or
Helping to teach
an employee something new.
Note : During
change, the focus starts inwardly toward
one’s self. Helping employees take
control and be part of the change gives
them the opportunity to resolve their
internal needs and move to Phase 2, "Team
Effectiveness." Then they can focus on
The sidebar describes each of the domain pairs and
provides simple examples. Overall there are eight
ways of “being.” By moving back and forth
between the two states within each of the four
motivational domains, 16 different combinations of
motivational attitudes and behaviors are possible,
and we are able to change among them
Once employees understand
what motivates them, they can begin to understand the
following three factors that naturally influence
changes among motivational states:
- Satiation—being in the state for enough
- Frustration—inability to satisfy the need
the state represents.
- Situation—a change in the
Any of these can result in a natural reversal of
motivational states. The value lies in being able to
recognize what causes the state and how to control
and create a reversal.
There are five techniques
for reversing a problematic motivational state, as
- Change the situation—changing the
external environment to induce a reversal;
physically moving to another place; getting out of
the physical environment.
- Conditioning–-using a conditioned
stimulus to induce a reversal; using an object or
stimulus to help reverse the state.
- Role playing–-pretending to already be in
the state; “faking it until you make
- Reframing–-thinking through the process
of getting into the other state; “walking in
another person’s shoes”; looking at
things from a different angle.
- Imagery—providing an image that will
induce the reversal; imagining a memory or picture
that will invoke a reversal.
Once a person has mastered the ability to effect
reversals within himself/herself, it is possible to
learn to use these techniques for creating reversals
in others—when you know and understand the
needs of the other person.
To understand self-patterns, it is helpful to reflect
on situations that either worked for you or
didn’t turn out like you hoped. You can reflect
at the end of a day, meeting, project, or situation,
and then you can think about what you would like to
have changed. In what state were you? In what state
do you wish you had been? How could you do it
differently next time? What was/is your goal? What
was/is your desired outcome? Self-reflection and
understanding helps improve the attitudes and ability
There are always obstacles to change. By
understanding and identifying the obstacles in
advance, you have a better opportunity to gain
control over the motivational styles that might
hinder you. Every obstacle to change can be countered
with a solution. Ask yourself, “If there is no
solution, then is it really my problem?” Maybe
the problem is outside of your control. You need to
figure out what part of the change belongs to you.
You plan for the problems that you expect to face, so
you don’t lose control over the situation when
those problems do arise.
The final step in change is to accept responsibility
for personal actions. In order to lead change, it is
important to look in the “mirror” before
trying to coordinate change for others.
Change requires four steps, as follows:
- Plan—Develop a written and detailed plan
for how to change. Written plans are the contracts
you make with yourself to make change
- Involve—Give the change away to someone
else. Find a champion to help keep the change in
the forefront. By involving someone else in your
change, you will have support to make it
- Measure—If the change can’t be
measured, then it needs to be reconsidered. Is it
within your control? Can you identify what
“changed” looks like? How will you know
the change has been accomplished?
- Reward—All good actions deserve a reward.
Don’t forget to celebrate success. If you
don’t, things may go back to the way they
were before the change.
Change may be difficult or it may be easy, depending
on your motivation. By understanding how to reverse
motivational style, it is possible to make all change
easier to attain.
- Goleman, D., R. Boyatzis, and A. McKee,
Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of
Emotional Intelligence (Boston: Harvard
Business School Press, 2002).
- Eitington, J.E., The Winning Manager
(Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing, 1997).
- Brill, P.L., and R. Worth, The Four Levers
of Corporate Change (New York: AMACOM,
- Apter, M., Apter Motivational Style Profile
Consultant Guide (Manassas, VA: Apter
International Ltd., 2002).
Bridges, W., Managing Transitions: Making the
Most of Change (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley,
Conner, D., Managing at the Speed of Change:
How Resilient Managers Succeed and Prosper Where
Others Fail (New York: Villard Books,
Cummings, T. G., and C.G. Worley,
Organization Development & Change
(Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College,
Drucker, P.F., Management Challenges for the
21st Century (New York: Harper Business,
Heller, R., Managing Change (New York: DK
Kotter, J.P., Leading Change (Boston:
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Kouzes, J. M., and B.Z. Posner, The
Leadership Challenge, 3rd ed. (San Francisco:
CHAI VORIS has more than 20
years of experience in the insurance, health care,
and financial services industries. She has devoted
most of her career to helping good organizations find
ways to create positive change results, implement
change solutions, and survive after failed change
efforts. Voris is president of Dynamic Change
Solutions, Inc., a change and leadership consulting
and training company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org