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Supporting people-centric decision making during organisational change

Geoff Trickey, CEO and Chartered Psychologist - Psychological Consultancy Ltd.

The speed at which change was implemented during the pandemic meant that, inevitably, ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies and procedures were adopted. How can we now reassess these changes and ensure decision making is people-centric?

How do we, as individuals, approach change and decision making?
Quick answer? In VASTLY different ways.

Personality psychology highlights extreme variation in people’s propensity for risk taking and the way decisions are made. Self-awareness, at a personal level, tends to enable the management of these differences. Take Ivan, for example. Ivan has a Wary approach to decision making. This means he is likely to be ultra-sensitive about vulnerability and exposure to risk in any situation. He is zealous about eliminating uncertainty and fervently seeks to establish order and control events.

His colleague Erin, however, has an Adventurous approach to decision making. She is likely to be fearless and confident, enjoy the excitement of breaking new ground and reaching for ambitious objectives, always on the lookout for opportunity. She will be frustrated by resistance and keen to take things forward.

How does this impact HR?
The way in which we approach risk and decision making in the workplace is how we approach risk and decision making in our personal lives. Such diversity of opinion can cause workplace conflict, and can lead to individuals responding to HR policies in a multitude of ways. Take remote working, for example, some employees might be itching to get back to the familiar brick and mortar of the workplace, others might be feeling unsettled and uncertain about their workplace’s ongoing plans for remote work. How can HR and management teams foster a people-centric communication plan to support their teams, taking account of cognitive diversities and moving away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model?

Psychometric Assessments such as the Risk Type Compass can determine the way in which individuals approach decision making, information which can not only allow for self-awareness and development within teams, but also to tailor communication plans for each risk disposition. Erin might require little communication regarding remote work plans and is excited about adapting as needed, whereas Ivan might feel more secure if he is consulted regularly for feedback on these plans, with a space for his concerns to be voiced and heard.

Be transparent about your organisation’s strategy to get through this post-pandemic period. Involve employees in pursuit of people-centric plans and objectives. Regular communications, exposure, and participation, encouraging employees to ‘get onboard with the project will help to review and rebuild organisational culture in a way that utilises the varied experiences of the recent past. The ‘new normal’ is not ‘off the shelf’, it doesn’t come out of a catalogue, it must be tailor-made. People’s risk taking dispositions vary dramatically between being apprehensive and reckless, and between being impulsive and inflexible.

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