There are few more stressful things to deal with in the work environment than change. It is stressful for many people because it presents many unknowns. People begin to ask themselves if their skills and how they apply them will still be valuable after the changes hit. What might be a troubling fact is that not only is change bound to happen, it will happen with more speed and regularity in the coming years. It’s a simple byproduct of the advances in technology. It’s a far more connected world of information sharing that results in enlarged exposure to new ideas combined with a sub-culture of contractors and consultants who can make new ideas happen. Think of your own computer or phone technology. How often do you feel you have finally figured out how a certain software or an app works only to see that an update has been sent and changed it all again? The workplace is going to be much the same and those who can look to and embrace change are going to be those who are also in the best position to move forward in it. So, when change is coming to your work (and it will) here are ways to be prepared for it:
We fight change to hold on to what we know but most often that way of doing things is already gone.
- Accept this is the new normal. I’m not sure where I first heard the term “the new normal” but it is a very applicable one to many situations. We fight change to hold on to what we know but most often that way of doing things is already gone. You can fight it all you want but you aren’t helping your case as to someone who is going to be trusted with responsibility in the new change. Change comes because the old way of doing things wasn’t cutting it or there was a significant risk attached to it. You can moan and complain that the old days are gone but eventually that wears thin even with fellow employees. Your best mindset is accepting that this is the way it is, the new normal, and that you are going to find ways to thrive in it.
Change comes because of a shift in what is valued or because a more strategic approach is desired toward certain values and goals.
- Change your mentality to find the opportunity. Once you accept that this is the new way of doing things then you have to figure out what these changes are going to bring in the way of new opportunities for someone. With any major change what basically is being communicated is the prior way wasn’t up to a desired standard and the belief is the new ways will better meet that standard. You have to ask yourself has the target moved. Are the things that were the focus of the old system still the main things in the new one? What is new in the changes that are trying directly trying to get a different result? Change comes because of a shift in what is valued or because a more strategic approach is desired toward certain values and goals. Are you clear on what those are? If so then what is it going to take to make it happen? Taking a good, hard look at these types of questions will often reveal opportunities for savvy employees to get quick wins and excel while others are still absorbing and reacting to the changes.
Seek to proactively embrace change when it comes and intentionally position yourself to become an expert on how it will affect the organization.
- Become an expert on what the changes will bring. People, by and large, are both slow and reactive to change. This means many people tend to wait until the changes force a different behavior from them rather than proactively adapting their habits and behaviors to the change. Do you want to know a secret? While changes have usually been deeply vetted from management and they are aware of likely implications the truth is no one fully knows how theory plays out in practice. There are too many unknowns. So, while your manager likely knows the broad implications of change they likely don’t know all the implications on a day-to-day level like an employee would. You have the chance to be a great feedback loop for your manager in helping them head off unanticipated problems. With an attitude of positivity and problem-solving you have the chance to put your manager ahead of the game with strong feedback in helping them implement change. It’s the type of role your manager will not forget.
As stated earlier the brutal truth is change is coming to your organization. Regarding change a friend of mine says you can “embrace it or die hating it.” My challenge to you is to proactively embrace change when it comes and intentionally position yourself to become an expert on how it will affect the organization. This will not only make you happier in your work but will help make you an integral part of your work environment.