By Joe Stein
Ongoing change has become commonplace in today’s work environment. The days where you could often do the same thing and in the same way for many years, are gone. The world today is one of constant evolution and sometimes even revolution.
Not everyone, however, reacts to change as well as some people do. Many still like to stick to their routine and dread any type of change due to the stress it creates. Most companies prefer those individuals that are adaptable and will embrace change.
This week, let’s look at one of the emerging Frequently Asked Questions: “How Do You React to Change?”
Why Is It Asked?
• Situation Demands It – While all industries in the modern economy have some level of change, there are certain industries (such as those in technology based environments) that are always in some state of flux. Likewise, there are situations where a company knows they are going through major change, such as reinventing themselves or a reorganization, and realize that they need to only bring in those people who can thrive in that environment.
• Position Demands It – Some positions, such as those in Information Technology (IT), are always undergoing change as new technology comes to market. A successful IT is always evolving, learning new skills, and sunsetting outdated knowledge.
• Change Fighters are Difficult to Supervise – As a Leader of others; I can speak from first-hand knowledge that those who fight change are frustrating. Any successful person desires some level of questioning, but “change fighters” generally create a dysfunctional environment. This is mostly because “change fighters” are usually speaking from a personal desire (i.e., how the change impacts them) rather than seeing it from the eyes of the overall business.
• Morale is Fragile – It is easy to disrupt a well-oiled team by bringing in the wrong person. A person who resists and complains about change can impact an entire team, causing a tremendously challenging ripple effect.
• New Person Perspective – Often a company desires to have the perspective of a new person from the outside as it navigates change. A person who embraces change can provide valuable insight that will make the situation that much more effective.
• Change Embracers Make Good Employees – Beyond just the moral and ease of supervision issues, “change embracers” tend to be more productive employees as they are more engaged and committed. These “change embracers” are also more likely to be life learners eager to learn the latest information or technology, creating productivity or customer service improvements.
How Should It Be Answered?
• With an Example – Anyone can say, “I love change”, but this statement has minimal meaning without a real example. Describe for the Interviewer a situation where you were placed in a position of change and adapted well. Even better, offer an example where you initiated the change and it created a positive situation, such as improved customer service, or a savings of budget dollars.
• Show Business Savvy – Describe a deeper understanding for the need to change. Tie the need for change to the need for constant improvement, whether on the micro-level to serve the customer better or on the macro-level of economic survival in these difficult times.
• With Enthusiasm - Get excited when answering this question. Weave into your description how well you adapted to the change needed. This is the time to raise your voice, make eye contact, and shift towards the front of your chair.
What Not To Do:
• Be Passive – Don’t make change someone else’s issue. Don’t describe yourself as changing because you have “no choice”, or “was just doing what I was told”.
• Complain About Change – This may seem obvious, but the most likely reason this question is being asked is because the employer desires a “change embracer”. It is rather rare that the Interviewer is seeking someone who constantly likes to do the same thing and will complain if you try to change it.
• Embrace Change for Change’s Sake – This is especially important if you are interviewing for a leadership position. Change needs to have a business reason. It is generally not productive to change things on a whim, or to prove who is in charge. Also, tone down a bit any risk-taking personality you may have. Most companies desire someone who is willing to take a little risk, but not someone who is untactical about it.
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