There are three things that are certain in life …
As the old saying goes, “there are three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and change. You can't avoid change, it's mandatory, progress, however, is optional.”
And to quote Tony Robbins, “change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
As this suggests, change is inevitable and can be painful. Traumatic even. Despite the fact that in every office across the land, conversations are taking place between colleagues about how things could be better if they were different, as humans, we are creatures of habit. We are most comfortable with people and situations that we know well, and it’s natural to feel wary of the unknown.
So what happens when change is imposed on us?
So when change is imposed on us in the workplace, it creates feelings of, at best, discomfort, at worst, real fear. In fact, change at work is one of the top life stressors. It’s because we feel in control when we have routine and predictability. When there are significant changes, uncertainty rules.
We all need to learn to embrace change as a positive, a necessity for the business to thrive and move forward. Hopefully, our employers will handle the process of transition well, but if not – well, we are all in charge of our own feelings. We need to use our intelligence and maturity to manage our fear, adjust to new circumstances and, yes, thrive in any new culture.
Easier said than done? Here are our six top tips.
1. Accept it’s happening. No point sticking your head in the sand, you ARE getting a new boss, moving to a new team, having a change of responsibility or whatever your change is. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can manage it.
2. Understand why it unsettles you. Think about what your fears are. Most of them won’t materialise but if they did, how would you tackle them? Having a plan gives you back control.
3. Reframe the situation. Think about every potential bad point and turn it round to a positive. EG “My boss, who is great, is retiring. What if I don’t get on with my new one?” becomes “I’ve got a great opportunity to show my new boss exactly what I can do. He/she won’t have any preconceptions about me.”
4. Be part of the change. Stick your head above the parapet and ask what you can do to help drive through the change and make it successful. You may even get to influence it in some way.
5. It’s good to talk. During a period of change, silences soon get filled with half-truths. Don’t listen to gossip, but instead talk to people who know what’s going on. Be constructive, ask questions, make suggestions.
6. Keep going. Don’t rest on your laurels, assuming what you are doing is no longer valid, or get paralysed into doing nothing. Keep doing your job and doing it well. You’ll get a sense of purpose from it, and presumably, you are still being paid to do it. Keep focusing on achieving your goals and tasks until you are given different ones.
Change isn’t going away, and it is inevitable for all organisations today. So hide under the table or stand tall and grasp the new opportunities – it’s your choice.