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Are You a Lion or a Mouse? How You React to Change Reveals Your Work Personality


Every job can be stressful at times, especially when a significant change event occurs. However, if you tend to react by going into escape mode, you may be a mouse. On the other hand, if you respond by baring your claws, you may be a lion.

What Science Says About Managing Change

All seriously, though, an interesting study conducted at the BI Norwegian Business School, provides some insight into why you and your co-workers tend to react to change in the workplace. In fact, this study, highlighted in Science Daily, proposes that certain innate personality traits determine the ability to either manage change or struggle with it.

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Over the course of three years, 60 managers were observed going about their management duties. Using a trusted personality test, managers were evaluated for 33 traits. When it came to successful change management, the study revealed that, “Management teams with members who had a high level of intelligence and a well-developed ability to withstand stress achieved better profitability than management teams where these personality traits were not as dominant.

In other words, the ability to accept change and deal with stress in a logical way enabled the managers to better lead their teams.

Steps for Managing Change at Work

You don’t have to be on a management track to learn how to deal with changes in the workplace. Everyone has the ability to develop key skills and attitudes that can prepare you for challenging situations at work and in life. Here are a few tips for preparing for and coping with changes with courage.

  1. Accept that change is a normal part of work. Sometimes working professionals get stuck in a rut and develop a complacency about their job. This is not a healthy situation for you, as it can cause you undue stress and fears over changes. Learn to accept that change comes in waves and you must be willing to stay above water.
  2. Decide what really matters to you. There may be changes occurring daily in your workplace, but it’s up to you to determine how and if you choose to react. Consider that what’s happening today may not matter a whole lot a year from now. Make the decision to focus on what really counts in your career and life.
  3. Learn how to be a problem-solver. When it comes down to dealing with change well, the folks who have developed the ability to solve problems tend to be the survivors. This requires some extra effort and a whole lot of creativity. Take a step away for a moment to change your mood and you may see things more clearly.
  4. Develop a mindset that allows you to shift gears. The trouble with change at work is that you never know what to expect from one hour to the next. This can be highly stressful, that is unless you learn to think in an agile way. Learn how to shift gears and calmly accept challenges instead of avoiding them.
  5. Take responsibility for your success and learning. You and only you can determine the progression of your career. Take stock in your skills and develop them to become better at your job and in your chosen industry. This can only help you roll with the changes and be a valuable team member.
  6. See the bigger picture at your company. The change you see now is only what’s happening on the surface of the organization you work for. It’s likely that a lot may be going on in executive meetings and these talks are affecting your experience as an employee. Try to put yourself into your supervisor’s shoes to better understand where the company is headed long term.

Every day, professionals make micro-decisions about how they will react to changes at work. Taking a more objective stance and not internalizing these changes can go a long way at reducing stress levels. Considering that you are a valuable person and not tied to your job title also helps. Learn to find an even ground between the mouse and the lion, for a more balanced approach to change management.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you deal with change at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Tess C. Taylor
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