When Change Comes to the Workplace
How can you adapt as the workplace continues to change and become increasingly complex?
By David Cox, SHRM-SCP | July 31, 2018
In his book, Embrace the Chaos, Bob Miglani describes his journey to a happier life by learning how to adapt to the changes at work (and in life) that were beyond his control. If you’re currently struggling with changes in leadership, staff, processes, systems, equipment, tasks, procedures, tasks, or routines at work, Miglani makes the following six suggestions for learning to embrace these changes for the betterment of your career and personal well-being.
- Let go of the past
Holding on to the past will never produce anything other than more grief. Once you let it go, you’ll spend more time focusing on the future instead of looking back.Let it all go. The old expectations, the way you used to work, the daily routines, the people you used to work with, and the kind of workplace that played a such a significant role in your life. You may as well let it go because it doesn’t exist anymore.
That’s not bad news—it’s a reality. Another reality is that some of the best opportunities in life present themselves when we are open to change.
- Accept that change isn’t something that happens; it’s happening all the time
Change is a natural part of life and a widespread occurrence in organizations. It’s continually occurring whether you are aware of it or not. By learning to accept that change is a natural law of life, you can begin to adapt whether it creeps or explodes into your workplace. Acceptance provides the security we often crave during times of change.Accept that change in the workplace is inevitable. Don’t run away from it. Learn how to work with it. Once you do, nothing can hold you back.
- Say “yes” to change
If you find yourself saying no or being cynical about every announced change, you’ll get nowhere. It won’t take long for people to start working around you as you develop a reputation for your opposition to proposed changes in procedures and practices. Organizations are meant to grow, improve, and move forward. By saying “Yes,“ you’re helping everyone move forward, including yourself.
- Set new goals and go after them
When there’s so much change in the workplace, it may feel as though there is a loss of direction. You can quickly lose your sense of purpose when you have no clarity of focus. It leaves you feeling uncertain about what to do next and undermines your ability to prioritize what’s most important.By setting new goals, you can bring about a mind shift that helps you direct your energy towards new accomplishments and achievements. There is no value in wasting your energy on anxiety about the changes at work that you cannot control.
- Focus on controlling your actions
The one thing you can control is your actions. If you are open to change, new goals may also bring new energy, enthusiasm, and clarity to your work. Stress and anxiety often arise from uncertain situations when people feel they have no control. We would all like to control circumstances and outcomes regarding our colleagues, our boss, or our customers. Regardless of the situation, focusing on the uncertain is a distraction that leads to inaction.
However, if you focus your energy and enthusiasm on the tasks you can control, it will open you to greater happiness and fulfillment, and help you develop a new sense of purpose.
- Get a fresh perspective
There’s a feeling of isolation that comes from trying to navigate a changing workplace. Your boss may not communicate as much as he used to. Colleagues and co-workers are keeping their heads down. Not having someone to talk to openly can be tricky because everyone is worried about what the change will mean to them. One powerful way to help us deal with change and adapt to it more quickly is to get an outside perspective from friends or others outside the workplace. Communicating with people in your network, meeting outside colleagues, or attending a conference or seminar can be tremendous opportunities to gain a fresh perspective.
Sometimes a simple conversation with someone outside the workplace may help you realize that your situation at work isn’t as bad as you thought! Additionally, you may get ideas or suggestions on how to deal with some of the more difficult challenges you are facing.
Miglani summed up his secret of adapting to workplace change as “trying to control the chaos and focus on what you can control—your actions, words, and thoughts. This change in perspective helps to boost our spirits, our resiliency, and our energy. Move forward, make mistakes, trust your intuition, and find your purpose.”