Embracing change

In an environment where technological disruption, political upheaval and economic uncertainty have become the norm, change happens rapidly and unpredictably. Often, it happens in ways we can’t control.

Written by Ross Dickie
Published 08 July 2020
Embracing change
Whether it’s a minor tweak to a process or a major restructure within the business, workplace change can often lead to feelings of stress, frustration and anxiety.  While this is perfectly natural,  change can also create opportunities to develop new skills and improve working practices. Here are a few tactics to help you maintain a positive mindset the next time you find yourself in a change scenario.

Establish the facts

First, you need to know what the proposed change involves, and how it will affect you, your team and the wider organization. Communication is crucial to the success of any change initiative, and resistance to change can often be traced back to fear of the unknown. If information from senior leadership leaves questions unanswered, ask your manager for clarification. When will the change be implemented? What does it mean for the organization? Why is it happening? Once you know all the facts, you’re more likely to respond with a clear head, understand its likely impact, and look for ways you can contribute to it.

Build a support network

During change, it’s important to find people you can turn to for support. Whether you’re in need of advice or just need to vent, sharing your thoughts or concerns with a close friend or colleague can help you step back from the situation and re-focus on the positives of change. At the same time, try to avoid getting drawn into too many negative conversations. While offloading your stress can be cathartic, it can also be contagious, and it’s easy to become trapped in a vicious cycle. Concentrate on problems you can solve, rather than dwelling on the ones you can’t.

Bring others with you

If you’re the sort of person that naturally welcomes change, see what you can do to help others do the same. Approach your own responsibilities with energy and enthusiasm, and check in with colleagues to find out how they’re coping. Encourage them to reflect on the positive aspects of change and make an effort to celebrate important milestones throughout the change process.

Own your stress

Research has shown that how we perceive stress plays a strong role in determining how it affects us. [1]  The received wisdom is that stress is a bad thing, something to be reduced or avoided. But stress can also be seen as the body’s way of gearing up for change, of increasing our physical and mental ability to cope with adversity .It’s worth bearing in mind that feelings of stress don’t necessarily come from a bad place. Just because a change at work is causing you stress, that doesn’t mean it won’t ultimately turn out to be a change for the better.

Put things into perspective

It can be tempting to only think about how change affects you or your immediate team, causing you to lose sight of the big picture. If a change is being implemented, ask yourself how it aligns with the values and the mission of the organization. However frustrating or inconvenient it might be in the short term, will the change ultimately lead to better results down the road? Instead of worrying about the future, think about the last time you added value to the organization, and how you can apply your skills to address problems in the present. If new skills are needed, what can you do to develop these?

Look after yourself

Finally, change can be exhausting. So give yourself a break every once in a while. Carve out a little ‘me time’ in your daily routine to get some exercise, practise mindfulness, or simply catch up with a friend over coffee. Aim to eat healthily when you can and try to get enough sleep each night. All of this might sound like common sense, but it’s easy to neglect your own wellbeing when there’s a lot going on at the office. Even if it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day, taking that lunchtime stroll will feel like time well spent if it helps you clear your head and come back to work refreshed.

[1] Heidi Grant, ‘How You Can Benefit from All Your Stress’. Available at: https://hbr.org/2013/03/how-you-can-benefit-from-all-y   (Accessed 8 July 2020).

About the author

Ross Dickie

Ross Dickie

Learning Experience Manager
Ross has been working in L&D since 2015 and is a key member of the Learning Experience team at Mind Tools for Business. Most of his time is dedicated to writing articles, scoping infographics and contributing to video projects.

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