Workplace change can elicit negative emotions, and employees often feel apprehensive about potential outcomes. This challenge becomes even more intricate when we consider the rise of the hybrid work environment. However, with an understanding of psychology and personality differences, you can equip individuals working in a hybrid environment with the necessary tools to feel empowered during changing times.
Individuals have unique personalities that influence how they absorb information, make decisions, derive energy, and structure their lives. Additionally, their socialization requirements differ. Given these distinctions, it's understandable that people's reactions, preferences, and needs are different when responding to changes.
If leaders are not cognizant of these personality and interpersonal differences, they may only communicate information in a way that aligns with their own preferences. This can exclude individuals who don’t share their personality preferences and needs. Here are three things to consider as you manage hybrid teams through the uncertainty of organizational change to ensure you address your team’s various needs:
Encourage Ownership Over the ProcessFor the top decision-makers, change is often the result of a conscious, well-considered decision that solves a problem and provides opportunities. However, the same change can disrupt routines or procedures for many employees.
These issues may worsen if change is perceived as forced or sudden, causing individuals to feel disheartened, defiant, and aggrieved. However, when people understand the purpose of the change and feel involved in the decision, they’re more likely to react positively.
Key Takeaway: Give your team information promptly so they feel included in the decision-making process. Obtain their feedback through surveys and other means of gathering uncensored opinions.
Understand How Personality Affects Perceptions of ChangeChange affects people differently based on personality type. Per the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® framework, individuals can be classified into two groups based on how they structure their external environment. Those preferring a methodical, orderly approach have a Judging preference, whereas those favoring a flexible, adaptable approach have a Perceiving preference.
In the current hybrid workplace, employees with a Judging preference may become stressed by:
- Unforeseen alterations to the regular schedule
- Loss of separation between work and home life
- Hybrid coworkers taking what they consider to be too many liberties regarding schedule flexibility
- Lapses in adherence to organizational rules
On the other side, employees with a Perceiving preference may become stressed by:
- New restrictions on time and flexibility
- Loss of variety and spontaneity
- Enforcement of policies they perceive as irrelevant or outdated
Key Takeaway: With training in personality differences, leaders can tailor their change-related decisions and how those changes are communicated to the personality preferences of those they lead.
Strive to Meet Employees’ Interpersonal NeedsWhat you assume people need to successfully implement the change might differ dramatically from what they actually need.
Fundamental Interpersonal Relation Orientation Behavior® (FIRO-B) is a model initially designed to enhance team cohesiveness among naval warship teams. The model proposes that individuals have three categories of interpersonal needs: Inclusion, Control, and Affection.
Furthermore, these manifest as either “Wanted” or “Expressed” needs. Wanted Inclusion, for example, describes how much an individual wants to be included by others in the group. Expressed Inclusion describes how much that individual works to include others in the group.
In a hybrid work environment, managers with high Wanted Inclusion levels may come across as micromanagers. This could lead to frustration among employees, as they may believe their manager doesn’t trust them to handle tasks independently. The manager’s motivation, however, is to feel included in the group or subgroup. So, although it may seem excessive, their behavior is driven by a desire for a sense of belonging.
However, if the team understands and is aware of the psychology of interpersonal needs, they’ll be less likely to immediately attribute negative intentions to the boss’s behavior. Likewise, the boss will recognize that the disparity in desires for Wanted Inclusion could create tension within the team.
On the other hand, leaders with low Wanted Inclusion levels may prefer working on individual projects and avoid social connections. This approach may cause a disconnect with the team they manage. This can be especially challenging if certain team members have a high level of Wanted Inclusion, as they may feel disregarded and undervalued or even question their job security.
Key Takeaway: It’s crucial to consider how your team’s interpersonal needs are being fulfilled. It’s not safe to assume that what you enjoy and find valuable is also appreciated by those you manage. Similarly, it’s not safe to assume that others feel the same way just because you require a certain level of interaction. It’s essential to be aware of your own needs for interpersonal engagement and to assess your team’s needs, too.