ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — August 2003

In This Issue

Changing Attitudes and Accelerating Change
Coaching and Performance Reviews—Time for Some Changes
Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Negotiating for Quality
Looking Toward the Future

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Changing 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
There are three phases to managing change in a highly dynamic and effective organization, as follows:

  • Self-understanding.
  • Relationship effectiveness.
  • Organizational effectiveness.

Phase 1: Self-Understanding
The 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 reach.

Phase 3: Organizational Change Effectiveness
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
If 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 location.

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 expense.2

The M.I.R.R.O.R. of Change
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 Figure 1).

Understanding the 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 and attitudes.

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 Experience
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 below:

  • Means-Ends—The purpose for engaging in an action.
  • 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 way.
  • Relationships—For whom we are making the change and whether the focus is on others or

Experience Domain Pairs

Pair Description Example



Focuses on the goal ("ends") with little concern about the process for getting there.

Studying for a professional certification.
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 "ends."


Focuses on the here and now ("means"), where the end isn’t as important as the process.

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 concern.

Note: During 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 us.

Starting a new job.
You watch what others at the office say and do so that you will fit within the group better.


Focuses on the internal need to be different, challenging, and oppositional.

Dissenting voice in a meeting.
Everyone else agrees on the situation, but you take the opposite view. You want to create your own identity separate from the group.

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 solutions.



Focuses on the need to be in charge, to win, and to be strong. Interaction through power and control.

Negotiating the purchase of a new car.
You want to get the best deal and "win" the negotiation.


Focuses on feelings, caring, and sensitivity.

Seeing a deserving employee promoted.
You feel the pride and joy of having helped the employee reach his/her full potential.

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 change.



Focuses on judging the outcome of an action primarily in terms of how it affects one’s self.

Feelings being hurt by something someone says to you.


Focuses on judging the outcome of an action primarily in terms of how it affects something or someone else.

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 helping others.

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 constantly.

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 time.
  • Frustration—inability to satisfy the need the state represents.
  • Situation—a change in the situation.

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 described below:

  • 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 it.”
  • 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 to change.

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 work.
  • 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 happen.
  • 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.



  1. Goleman, D., R. Boyatzis, and A. McKee, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002).
  2. Eitington, J.E., The Winning Manager (Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing, 1997).
  3. Brill, P.L., and R. Worth, The Four Levers of Corporate Change (New York: AMACOM, 1997).
  4. Apter, M., Apter Motivational Style Profile Consultant Guide (Manassas, VA: Apter International Ltd., 2002).

Other Recommended References

Bridges, W., Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1991).

Conner, D., Managing at the Speed of Change: How Resilient Managers Succeed and Prosper Where Others Fail (New York: Villard Books, 1993).

Cummings, T. G., and C.G. Worley, Organization Development & Change (Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College, 1997).

Drucker, P.F., Management Challenges for the 21st Century (New York: Harper Business, 1999).

Heller, R., Managing Change (New York: DK Publishing, 1998).

Kotter, J.P., Leading Change (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996).

Kouzes, J. M., and B.Z. Posner, The Leadership Challenge, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002).

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 .

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