Change is the only true constant. This aphorism is as true today as it was centuries ago.
While many of us often look forward to changes in our lives or at work – daydreaming or pontificating about how things could be different – when things do actually change, we often feel caught off guard and unprepared.
It’s one thing to be the one who suggests or initiates a change, but when you’re not in the driver’s seat as it were, unable to control what’s happening around you, change can be an unsettling, disenfranchising and downright scary prospect. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by doubt and uncertainty.
However, change does not have to culminate in fear and anxiety. As individuals, we have a lot of personal control over how we deal with the changes we are faced with; it’s ultimately up to you how you choose to perceive or handle change.
With that in mind, here are four tested strategies for making the most of change in the workplace.
Stay Positive & Optimistic
Although this can be easier said than done, maintaining a positive attitude in the face of change is crucial for being able to thrive in your career. The ability to adapt to change is one of the most crucial attributes for any employee. Regardless of the new circumstances, you should always strive to be optimistic and maintain a good attitude.
Even though you may not be satisfied with certain aspects of a particular change, you can still be optimistic about what possibilities it might yield. For example, you may not like certain things about a new role you’ve been required to take on, but you never know what a year in this position might ultimately do for your career. You might grow to love the very things that you currently think you don’t like; it might even lead you onto a different (and more satisfying) career path that you might not have otherwise considered.
While the new situation you find yourself in may not be perfect, the old one most likely wasn’t perfect either. Rather than fretting or stewing about what you don’t like about it, focus on how you can best leverage your skills, experiences and network to make the most of the changes. Thinking of ways you make the change work to your advantage will help you to take ownership of it, thus making you feel more in control. However, maintaining a negative attitude about the change will only result in alienating yourself from the rest of your team.
Be Flexible & Open
Rather than stifling your creativity and potential with a rigid mindset, try to be flexible and open to new ideas and possibilities. Instead of viewing the change solely as negative, try to view it as a career opportunity. By adopting an open attitude of anticipation and getting involved in new committees and work teams, you can make yourself part of the change.
Instead of fighting or fearing change, try to keep yourself open and flexible to new challenges and tasks. If you approach change with an open attitude of learning – even if you don’t like something new in the system – people will want to work with you, and you’ll have a greater chance of making a positive impact on those around and the company as a whole.
By having the flexibility to become an influencer and driver of change, you will feel empowered and less fearful, enabling you (and those around you) to embrace the positive aspects going forward.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
This brings us to an important point; when faced with change that’s not of our own making, it’s all too easy to become reactive. Once put on the defensive, we may worry endlessly about, resist or openly fight against new developments. From this perspective, people are often only able to see the negative aspects of a given change. However, these are all reactive responses, and when we react defensively, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to become part of the change.
If we can learn to shift our mindset to enable ourselves to become proactive, a whole new world of possibilities will open up to us. Not only do we act more responsibly when we make proactive decisions, but we’re able to make positive contributions that allow the entire team/project to succeed. Being proactive is about being a team player and keeping the bigger picture in mind.
One of the ways you could be proactive in coping with workplace change is by learning new skills. Make a list of the skills that are required for your new role or responsibilities and invest time each week in developing them. Taking on more responsibility or acquiring new skills not only makes you more valuable in your company; it also makes you more marketable down the road to prospective employers.
Another proactive strategy is to look for ways you can help others cope with the change. One of the best ways to deal with your new position is to help others get situated while you are trying to figure it out yourself. Teaching is the best way of learning. By helping others in this way, they will be more inclined to want to help you in return. Lending guidance and a helping hand in a difficult period of transition will also help to establish you as leadership material in the eyes of management.
Focus On Communication
A big part of being proactive and adapting successfully to workplace changes is to be an effective communicator. Clear, open communication is the key to success in any new role/team.
Communicate with others to learn your new role. Find those that have already been in your role and get them to teach you everything you need to know so you can get up to speed. Ask as many questions as possible about your new role or responsibilities. This will show people that you value their insight and take your new responsibilities seriously.
Communication is always important, but it becomes even more crucial during times of change. Part of the fear of change is the unknown. If the leadership of your company is not communicating change effectively, make it your business to be proactive in finding out more about what the change involves.
The bottom line is, change is inevitable for all organisations today, so you’ll need to overcome your fear of it. Change can be disruptive, even frightening, but it will always be there. With the right attitude, outlook and actions, you can find opportunities for making the most of it.
JobFitts Consultants are a specialist provider of professional Recruitment Services for the Financial Services sector and related suppliers in Australia. Since 2003 we have recruited and placed a breadth of operational roles at all levels from HR, Accounting, Marketing and Customer Service/Frontline.
To find out more visit our website at JobFitts here or call us on (02) 9220 3595 or email here.