How to work with people who avoid change vs people who like change

Avoids Change vs. Likes Change Personality Traits

The only constant is change . . . but some people handle it better than others. Some employees are resistant to change, instead craving the stability and dependability of the status quo. Others might like change and see it as a chance to mix things up and learn something new.

Let’s explore the differences between these two traits, including how the change-loving and change-averse like to work, train, and more.

What is change avoidance?

People who avoid change prefer consistency from procedures, people, rules, their environment, and more.

What are the characteristics of an employee who avoids change?

If you’ve got an employee who is resistant to change in the workplace, you may notice:

  • If possible, they will choose to work and spend time with others who think and work the way they do (in other words, those who also avoid change) so that their views and patterns are less likely to be challenged.
  • They’re the last people to switch over to a new app or software program, even if it makes life easier.
  • They aren’t interested in frequent job or career switches.
  • Uncertainty or big changes at work leave them stressed, nervous, or cautious.

How to work with someone resistant to change

Usually, we think about change-avoidant personalities when change is happening (or needs to happen) … and they’re avoiding it. But that’s missing the big picture. Things aren’t always changing and some things do stay the same over time. Dependability and reliability are extremely valuable in an employee.

But, of course, change does happen. Here are some tips for working with change-resistant people.

How to train someone who avoids change
  • Don’t dump a bunch of how-tos and manuals in this person’s lap and expect them to pick things up on their own. In-person, hands-on training can help change-avoidant people get the ball rolling.
  • Training can be stressful for change-avoiding people, especially if it means leaving behind an old, familiar way of doing things. Make sure you take the time to hear out any concerns they may have about the change, answer questions, and explain the reasoning behind the changes when you can.

How to motivate someone who avoids change

  • Focus on how changes fit into your team’s larger mission. Those things shouldn’t change, so they’ll be a source of stability for change-avoiding employees.
  • Make sure you identify what isn’t changing. If you’re introducing a new software tool, for example, point out how it still accomplishes the same basic task as the old one. And then, explain what will be better about the new way of doing things.
How to give feedback to someone who avoids change
  • Notice their dependability. If they’re delivering solid results day in and day out, or always do a great job bringing things back to your company’s unchanging core values, call that out!
  • Be consistent. People who avoid change want to know what to expect; if suggestions or feedback seem like they’re coming out of left field, the recipient will be more resistant. Clearly communicate your expectations and the bar for meeting and exceeding them.

What is the opposite of an employee resistant to change?

On the other end of the spectrum, you have people who embrace change (and get bored without it).

What does it mean to like change?

In the workplace, a person who likes change is often excited about new procedures, projects, and people. In fact, they may suggest changes and improvements themselves. Change-loving people seek out new challenges and adventures. If nothing new is going on, they may feel stagnant or restless.

What are the characteristics of an employee who likes change?

When you’re working with someone who likes change, you may notice:

  • They’re able to roll with the punches and stay calm even when things are changing quickly.
  • They volunteer for projects or roles that will expand their experience, just for a change of pace.
  • They’re “early adopters” of new technology and policies.
  • They suggest new or better ways of doing things.

How to work with someone who likes change

When change is in the air, you’ll definitely appreciate the change-loving members of your team. But if things are pretty steady, they may become restless and look for ways to switch things up. Here’s some advice for working with people who embrace change in the workplace.

How to train someone who likes change
  • If you’re training your team on something new, make sure your change-loving staff members have space to be excited about the change. Acknowledge the feelings of the employees resistant to change without allowing them to create a negative atmosphere; this will let your employees who like change enjoy the moment.
  • Point out opportunities to grow and build on their current knowledge, even if you aren’t going to focus on those yet. For instance, if you’re training a change-loving person on how to use the basic functions of a software program, mention more advanced things they’ll be able to learn later.
How to motivate a change-loving person
  • Offer room for change and growth, especially if your office environment is slow to change, or if the person’s role is fairly consistent. New projects and training opportunities go a long way with employees who like change in the workplace.
  • Put them in roles that require and reward flexibility.
How to give feedback to someone who likes change
  • Sometimes, people who like change can grow frustrated if they perceive things as stagnant or not optimized. Make space to listen to those concerns and offer clarity on what can and can’t be changed.

Who is a better worker: someone who is change-avoidant vs. change-loving?

There’s no one “best” personality trait when it comes to how we handle change. It depends on the company, the job, and other parts of the employee’s personality, too. For example, a scrappy startup will likely attract employees who like change, while a buttoned-down organization that gives out gold watches for decades of service will appeal to employees who are resistant to change. Most organizations fall in the middle and need a mix of both personality types!

Hire Success gives you deep insight into your job candidates (and current employees!) so you can take note of their personality traits and how they’ll play out in the workplace. Knowing these traits ahead of time can help you ask the right questions in an interview and ensure a better fit for each role.

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