How to embrace workplace change, not dread it

How to embrace workplace change, not dread it

Many of us look forward to change in the workplace. We often have conversations with our colleagues about how we would like things done differently, yet when things do change, we can feel fearful, uncertain and uncomfortable. We fear change at work for a variety of reasons. These fears are often associated with fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of criticism and fear of the unknown.

Unless we were the ones responsible for generating the new idea, we most likely view change with skepticism

Change is natural and good, but people’s reaction to change is unpredictable and irrational. The secret to successfully managing change, from the perspective of the employee, is definition and understanding.

Resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, when policies and procedures change; especially ones that have been in effect for a long while, it can be difficult to adjust and do things differently. Even when the change is seemingly positive and welcomed, it will probably mean that you’ll need to learn and adjust to a new way of doing things.

Rather than getting distracted and beginning to focus on the perceived negatives, start making a plan on how to transition and embrace the changes.

Here are 10 tips for managing change before it manages you:

Acknowledge the change.

The most important thing to do when change is happening in the workplace is to acknowledge it. Recognising and accepting the changes is one of the first steps towards managing it.

Keep your emotions in check.

You may want everything to stay exactly the same and hearing that there will be new policies and procedures can make you feel uncertain. If you’re freaking out, you’ll have a harder time crafting a plan of action. If you’re feeling anxious, pause and remind yourself that you are in control of your emotions and have the ability to see things in a positive light.

Gather all the necessary information.

Getting as much information as possible about why the changes are occurring can help you understand and embrace the change. Equally important is making sure that the information is qualified from the correct sources. It’s okay to have questions, but be sure to communicate with the right people to get the answers you need. Find out how your position will be impacted and what the new expectations are.

Face your fears.

If you are feeling generally anxious about the changes, make a list in an objective form so you can better understand your emotions. By going through each fear in an objective way and thinking about what you would do if that fear came to pass, you will realise that things are not as bad as they seem. You will also be prepared to discuss the impact of the changes to your manager in a more rational way when the time comes.

Be embracing of change.

Instead of hiding from your fear and creating defenses to keep it away from you, be open and flexible to taking on new challenges and tasks. Chansky says to approach change with an open attitude of learning. “Even if you don’t like something new in the system, if you are flexible, people will want to work with you, and there is a greater chance of change. If you “rage against the machine, so to speak, no one is going to rush to have your back.”

Seek support.

Talk about how you are feeling to your manager and coworkers. Face your feelings about fear and the transition you are going through, especially when the change is imposed and beyond your control. Changes can vary in that it may not be a change to your role but could mean working in a different location, change in work mates or the loss of a project you love working on. Reach out and tell people how you are feeling

Create a new plan.

Once you have all the pertinent information, you can plan how your new day-to-day work life will look and feel. Do you need to travel to a new work location? Will you have new responsibilities? Whatever the changes are, be sure that you have the tools needed to do your job well.

Be part of the change.

Get on board with the changes and adopt an attitude of anticipation. Welcome change as an opportunity. Be an influencer and driver of change. Get involved in new committees and work teams. That way you will feel empowered and less fearful.

Get on board with the changes and adopt an attitude of anticipation. Welcome change as an opportunity. Be an influencer and driver of change. Get involved in new committees and work teams. That way you will feel empowered and less fearful.

Focus on the benefits.

With change, there are usually opportunities. They may not be as obvious at first, so take a minute to think through some of the positive things that may come about because of the change. Perhaps you will learn a new skill or get a chance to demonstrate your level of expertise more fully. Keep in mind that there is often an upside to things that initially seem negative. Think things through to fully to discover the positive impact that change may have for you.

The bottom line is, change is inevitable for all organisations today, so you’ll need to overcome your fear of it. Change can be frightening and disruptive. However, with the right attitude, outlook and actions, you can discover bright opportunities within that change.

Pam McKean Pam McKean is the founder and director of two successful recruitment agencies - JSS Recruiting, servicing multiple industries specialising in Reception and Business Support; Medical Administration; and Marketing and PR – and AB Dental Employment Agency, which services 2000+ businesses and is the leading agency for the dental industry in Australia.


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