From an individual’s perspective, change – that often greatly feared thing – usually involves learning to do something new. In turn, this usually involves a temporary dip in the individual’s performance – with all the accompanying unease and uncertainty that brings.

When learning something new, we focus on it and become self-conscious about our performance. Once we’ve learned something, we become less conscious of our performance – demonstrating unconscious competence – until we face a new challenge.


There are four key schools of thought when considering change as it affects the individual:

  • The behavioural approach, which is about changing behaviours through reward and punishment
  • The cognitive approach, which is about achieving results through positive reframing (goal setting and coaching to achieve results)
  • The psychodynamic approach, which is about understanding and relating to the inner world of change.
  • The humanistic psychological approach, which is about believing in development and growth and, thus, maximising potential. The emphasis here is on healthy development; healthy authentic relationships and healthy organizations.

Each of these four approaches has advice for those managing organizational change:
Get your reward strategies right (behavioural)
Link goals to motivation (cognitive)
Treat people as individuals and understand their emotional states as well as your own (psychodynamic)
Be authentic and believe that people want to grow and develop (humanistic).

Personality type has a significant effect on an individual’s ability to initiate or adapt to change – as does that person’s motivating forces. These could be power, status and money, or affiliation and inclusion. In addition, a person’s previous response to change can provide clues as to how s/he will react to change this time around. So, too, will the organization’s history; the type of change, and the consequence of change for the individual.

Those wanting to understand how to lead and manage change successfully can get help from the recently published third edition of ‘Making Sense of Change Management’ (ISBN 978-0-7494-6435-6) by Esther Cameron & Mike Green. Building on this book’s concepts, APMG  has developed change management courses at Foundation and Practitioner levels, as well as a change management certification scheme. These courses explore how the dynamics of effective change work, showing delegates how to unlock resistance to change, enable teams to work together and speed up the implementation of change programmes.

Cameron and Green’s book should enlighten any would-be learner’s long dark tea-break; while APMG’s courses aim to provide in-depth illumination.