“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
Whether we like it or not, change is a constant. Everything is temporary, no matter how much we wish that certain things could last forever. As much as this is relevant to every day life, it is increasingly apparent in the forever innovating and adapting job market.
When we experience change that is welcomed, we usually feel a sense of achievement or good luck. Positive change is embraced wholly and without question.
However, whenever we are faced with uncertainty and change beyond our control within our professional environment, we begin to worry about the possible failures and negative outcomes that may affect us. We feel that our jobs may be at stake.
That being said, organisations deliver changes to structure, management and job responsibilities fairly often, and for the most part, quite successfully. The employees who embrace transformation without fear, but with intelligence and ambition, are the ones who will flourish in their new roles.
So, what do intelligent and ambitious individuals do when they embrace uncontrollable change in their careers?
Accept the change
By the time we have been notified about any upcoming divisional change, chances are it has been approved by the guys upstairs and the wheels are now in motion. As employees caught in the tide of organisational restructures, we have two choices. We either resist and swim against the current or we go with the flow and use the extra momentum to our benefit.
Once we accept that things are going to change, we are able to initiate the following tips to ensure we come out on top.
Discover Your Circle of Influence
In the book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People’, Stephen Covey outlines a technique to separate one’s lower and higher priorities, enabling us to gain ownership for action. Each of us have our own wide range of concerns in life, however, there are some things we can directly influence and others we can only stay concerned about.
Proactive people, the ones who succeed in times of change, focus on issues within their smaller ‘Circle of Influence’. We may be concerned what these changes may mean to the business, our colleagues in another department and how our role will change as a result. By accepting that we can’t influence how the business as a whole reacts to these changes, we are able to focus on what we can influence — the affect to our role.
Embrace what we can control and let go of what we cannot.
By focusing on our Circle of Influence, we half the problems at hand immediately, and give ourselves enough headspace to make positive changes to the concerns that we do have control over.
Communicate as early as possible with new managers and new teams
With any restructure or organisational change, we may find ourselves working with a new team or for new management.
Although this may be daunting to a lot of people, making the effort to introduce ourselves to our new colleagues early on in the process does two things; it shows that we are confident and proactive individuals (two traits that resonate well within a team) and that we view moving into this new team as a positive and welcomed change.
Use the change as an opportunity to further enhance your career
With every new development in one’s life comes new opportunities. A change in the workplace is no different. We will be exposed to new people, new targets and new challenges. By preparing for and therefore embracing these new opportunities, we are positioning ourselves for faster career development and early success within our new environment.
Engage our internal and external relationships
Throughout your professional career, we will have made contacts, created friendships and worked with mentors who may be able to offer valuable advice on our current situations.
According to the Office of National Statistics, an average of 110,000 employees are made redundant every month in the UK, so it is very likely that someone in our immediate network has endured a similar circumstance in their life/career. Our professional contacts are a wealth of knowledge — and we use them.
Focus on what you can do, not what is happening to you
It’s really quite easy to feel overwhelmed during a stage of uncertainty and, when we find ourselves feeling this way, it’s tempting to take the back seat and wait until we are given instructions.
This is just an old defence mechanism trying to protect us from vulnerability. We need to identify what we can do to make the change easier and/or more effective.
Be part of the change. Be an influencer.
In times of ambiguity, information can be limited and sporadic, especially in larger organisations, and we may find ourselves in a state of limbo.
If the plans concerning your future are not yet clear, we can request time with our superiors and those managing the transformation project to learn more about what is in store and whether we can further enhance the transition.
“He who asks a question remains a fool for five minutes. He who does not ask remains a fool forever.”
Restructural changes are never personal and most managers will do what they can to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible for their employees and the business. Communication and understanding take away the fear of uncertainty. The greater the understanding, the greater control you have over your future.
Maintain a positive outlook
Structural change within an organisation can add an enourmous amount of stress on the best of us, so learning to look at the positives of change can be a real benefit to embracing the new world order.
Remember, even if you can’t see any immediate advantages, you’re not trapped in this new role/team and there are plenty of other options out there to ensure you’re happiness and job security remain intact.
A lot of companies and managers will help where they can to place you in a suitable role internally and will be more than happy to offer a reference if you decide to look elsewhere as a result of the structural change.
Change is inevitable, whether it’s in our professional or personal lives, positive or negative, sudden or gradual. Despite the size of the change we may face, it is our attitude and perseverance that enable us to turn any change into a successful opportunity.