Emily Marsh

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How does personality impact your response to organisational change?

October 10, 2018

“Our only security is our ability to change” - John Lilly

In an organisational context, this couldn’t be more true. Change is the only thing that’s constant for companies today. And if they want to survive and remain competitive, they need to be able to adapt with these changes.

The trouble is, ongoing efforts to change can put a lot of strain on your people. This can cause them to become disengaged, withdrawn or anxious. If it gets too much and you aren’t investing enough to support your people through change you may even see your employee retention rates drop.

The trick is understanding how the individuals in your organisation are likely to respond to change so that you can help support and navigate them through it.

So what can Facet5 tell us about how people respond to change?


People with high Will may be quick to challenge proposed changes if they don’t agree with the principles behind them, especially if they also score high on Energy, in which case they won’t be shy about vocalising their concerns. The best way to engage them is to give them a role in shaping the direction of the change, where they can think up their own ideas and help lead others through the transition.

People with low Will have an interest in gathering others' views before deciding whether a change makes sense to them. They tend to dislike confrontation so even if they don't agree that it's the best course of action, they are unlikely to challenge it.


High Energy individuals are likely to be excited by new ventures because novelty and activity are of high interest to them. They may talk to others in the business about what’s happening and discuss and debate the pros and cons with them. They are sociable and want to feel involved in what’s happening around them, so giving them a role will help to keep them engaged.

Rather than talking about it to others straight away, low Energy individuals may hold their cards close to their chest as they take their time to consider what the change means. Their levels of enthusiasm for the change will be harder to gauge - they won’t be as outwardly enthusiastic as their high Energy colleagues. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t equally excited, and it’s important to remember this when thinking about who to involve in leading the initiative. They may be just as keen to play a role in shaping and implementing the change, as long as they can go at their own pace.


People who score high on Affection are likely to see the positive side of change and be supportive of any attempts to improve ways of working. They tend to take things at face value and are more trusting of the motives driving change. They want to see the business and the people within it succeed and are likely to put their hand up to offer help where needed. However, if they feel the change will impact on people within the business in a negative way, they may challenge it, especially if they also have a high Will score.

Low Affection people tend to see things in a more business-like and objective way. They are likely to meet new ideas with a more questioning attitude, so the reasons for change would need to be set out as a clear case, without too much emphasis on the human factors.


High Control people like consistency and therefore may resist change because it means doing things differently and new ideas - things they aren't naturally comfortable with. If they also score high on Emotionality, they could find change quite distressing. Structure and order are important to them so they'll want to know that there is a clear plan for implementing the change. 

Low Control people are more easy-going and laid back, tending to ‘go with the flow’. But as people less bound by rules, it may be harder to get them to comply with new ways of working or new systems if they feel they are being stifled. They may respond well to opportunities to brainstorm ideas and kick-start change projects. However, you may find that their interest in being involved wains over time.


People with high Emotionality are passionate and likely to be highly engaged with change. They will want to do the best for themselves and the business, meaning they will always give new ideas and their responsibilities 110%. However, they may also have some apprehension and dwell on certain things that worry them, like they won't be good enough or that things will go wrong. This means they may need more reassurance throughout the change period.

Low Emotionality people tend to take things as they come and will meet change initiatives with a more relaxed attitude.  They won’t need as much reassurance as their low Emotionality colleagues. There is a risk that they could come across as uninterested and blasé, especially if they also have a low Energy score. But as leaders, they may appear optimistic and unworried, which could help inspire confidence in others.


With change being a constant, creating an agile and adaptable workforce is key to achieving success. The challenge is that not everyone responds to change in the same way. It can excite some people and alienate others. People will have different concerns - and different ways of expressing them - based on their personality traits.

Personality profiling helps organisations to predict and manage these responses to successfully effect change. After all, a change process that respects the needs of your workforce is more likely to be successful than one imposed from above.

Beyond the Personality Test 

Topics: Featured change management


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