How To Manage Change in Uncertain Times

Adapting to change can be difficult under normal circumstances but in today’s current environment we are being asked to shift the way we live on a daily basis.  The uncertainty we face with our health, career, childcare, education and the economy is leaving individuals frustrated, disoriented and feeling a lack of control.  Understanding how we respond to change can help us to gain a perspective on managing our daily lives. Understanding the human response to change may be a leader’s greatest challenge and most valuable resource.

Why Change Preferences Matter

Research shows that people demonstrate one of three preferences when creating or reacting to change.  The Change Style Indicator (CSI) assessment measures your preferred style when faced with change.  The three styles represent distinct approaches and preferences to responding to change.  It does not indicate your effectiveness at using your preferred change style.  Awareness of change preference allows you to choose from a range of responses for any given situation.  The key is to understand your preference and know when to adapt in order to be most effective.

By understanding Change style preferences you are better able to:

  • manage your response to change and its consequences, both as a leader and a support person
  • understand the sources of emotion and conflict associated with change
  • recognize and optimize the contributions that each change style offers to your team and organization
  • increase productivity with more effective responses
  • respond to others in a way that enhances understanding and collaboration
Change Preferences

The results of the CSI places you on a continuum ranging from a Conserver style to an Originator style with the Pragmatist style occupying the middle of the continuum.


Conservers prefer the known to the unknown.  The goal of a Conserver is to improve effectiveness by more efficiently utilizing resources – people, technology, knowledge and capital.  Conservers prefer change that is gradual and incremental.  The Conserver style advocates for continuous improvement while minimizing chaos and uncertainty.  Conservers prefer to work within existing rules and policies.


Pragmatists prefer to explore the current situation in an objective manner.  They are likely to advocate for change that is reflective of the demands and constraints of the current circumstance, regardless of the impact on existing rules, policy and structure.  Pragmatists prefer change that is functional.  While they are able to see multiple perspectives, they are most interested in what will work and seems most practical.


Originators prefer a faster and more radical approach to change.  The preference of Originators is significant and expansive change, which occurs quickly.  The preference of an Originator is to challenge existing rules, politics and structures, resulting in fast, fundamentally different, even disruptive changes.  Originators typically challenge the status quo.

How to Increase Collaboration Across CSI Styles

Collaborating with Conservers
  • Resist decisions that create chaos
  • Encourage building upon what is already working
  • Focus on agreed upon goals and objectives
Collaborating with Pragmatists
  • Build a bridge between diverse positions and opinions
  • Encourage expanding on multiple perspectives
  • Focus on gaining commitment and buy-in
Collaborating with Originators
  • Encourage out-of-the-box thinking
  • Initiate enthusiasm and excitement
  • Focus on initiating new tasks

Try Out the Change Style Indicator (CSI)

The CSI is a powerful tool to help gain insight into how to effectively deal with change and uncertainty.  Awareness helps us to take a step back and understand the dynamics of a change and how we might shift the way we manage in today’s fast-paced environment.

Key Takeaways of the CSI

  • Gain insight into the three Change styles
  • Learn about your Change style – strengths and challenges
  • Understand the differences across the Change styles
  • Practice strategies to increase communication and support:  when facing change, when contributing to the organization, when leading, when supporting innovation, and when collaborating
  • Identify the potential pitfalls of each Change style
  • Identify common perceptions for each Change style
  • Put into practice tips for increasing flexibility and maximizing effectiveness
  • Learn specific communication tips for working with Change preferences

View the Change Style Indicator Sample Report

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