How to motivate people to adapt to change - Part 2

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Photo by Josh Calabrese on Unsplash

In part one of this blog, we looked at how the Regulatory Fit theory and the Expectancy Value theory can be brought together to provide a useful structure for driving the adoption of change within teams. In this blog, I will take the discussion further and put these theories to work on some real-life scenarios. We are going to look at how they might work in practice with a couple of examples using the kinds of change we are seeing our clients tackling right now.

To explore these theories we are going to look at two different types of teams that could exist within two example organisations:

Team A: Is the technical team within a company with ambitious plans for growth and a focus on becoming the market leader.

Team B: Is the technical team within a company with moderate plans for growth and a desire to capture more market share while successfully fending off competition.

Let us see the statement of change proposed by teams A and B in response to the stated ambitions of their company and using the Regulatory fit theory:

Statements of Change:

Company A: We are going to change our process and adapt to new technologies/tools as we want to help make our company the market leader in our industry, driving growth and generating more revenue for the team and company.

Company B: To align with trends in the current market, we are investing in new process and technological changes to help this organisation grow its current status and fend off competition.

The table below summarises how differently focused people will perceive this statement of change in the light of Regulatory fit theory

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Looking at the response from Promotion and Prevention focused people for the changes proposed by Team A and B, it is clear that the Promotion focus people will favour the change proposed by Company A, while among Prevention focused people the response will be lukewarm at best. On the contrary changes proposed by company B will be readily accepted by Prevention focused people as compared to Promotion focused people.

To help their organisations meet their stated aims both teams intend to move towards more agile development, continuous CI/CD and use the latest technology stack. So let’s take a look at two possible routes that these software teams could go down to implement this change and how the Expectancy Value Theory can help pick the right path:

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The Expectancy Value Theory is based on the following statement: motivation = expectancy * value

Expectancy: How likely it is that a wanted (instrumental) outcome (goal) is achieved through the behaviour or action.

Value: How much the individual values the desired outcome. Value can be monetary or emotional

Below table summarises the different aspects of this change in relation to both of these values (expectancy and value from my perspective. These will vary from individual to individual):

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Using the above comparison can help you to decide which of the different paths to take based on the response you are likely to get from the team. Some teams will be more biased in one direction than others but all are likely to contain a blend of Promotion and Prevention focused individuals

The table summarises the people motivation to accept and align with change proposed change based on Expectancy value theory:

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If we add the result of the above evaluation of proposed changes based on Regulatory fit theory and Expectancy value theory:

We can see that changes proposed by Team A with Option 1 will be well received by Promotion focused people but less well-received by Preventative focused team members. However, implementing those changes using Option 2 is unlikely to be well received by either Promotion focused or Prevention focused people.

In the case of Team B, the proposed changes with Option 1 will be well accepted by Preventive focused people while the same may not motivate the Promotion focused people. With Option 2 for company B, neither group are likely to respond well.

In conclusion, by applying the Regulatory fit theory and Expectancy value theory while framing the challenge of change, you will be able to motivate teams/people and increase the chances of success of adoption of change. We have found that working with team leads to help them hone their approach to change has meant that they are able to implement changes faster, with greater success and much longer-lasting behavioural shifts.