Change IS good!!

There is only one certainty in this world and that is, that nothing is certain!

Being able to handle change at work is seen as a real bonus. it is so important that there are careers (and businesses) whose job is to manage change. That’s why employees who help organisations by supporting and enabling change programs (planned or otherwise) are highly valued.

What is ‘change management’?

In business being able to manage change is essential. So what does this mean?

Well, it could be as simple as introducing a new member of staff to the team. New people shifts the dynamics and has to be carefully managed to keep ‘business as usual’ (if you want to know more check out Starting a new Job in the Useful links section).

On a larger scale it could involve relocating the business to new premises, starting a new product line or service or introducing a new reward system.

It doesn’t matter how small the change it is the following elements still need to be considered:

  • why is the change being made (assessment)?
  • what are the potential risks to the business (risk analysis)?
  • who is the best person to lead the project (and it doesn’t have to be the manager)?
  • what resources do we need for the project (people, money and materials)?
  • how will it be communicated (to staff, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders)?
  • who/where will the resistance come from and how will it be handled (leadership)?
  • how will we know that the project went well (measures)?

As I said earlier there is a whole industry supporting change management and you can read more about this aspect of business here ….

How to manage and enable change

Everyone can handle change its just that some people have a higher tolerance than others. We all know the feeling when things are moving too fast for us - we experience sleepless nights, hold tension in our body and start being less sociable.

So, can you learn to embrace change and enjoy it?

Yes, you can but, like most things, you have to work at it (and the following brief introduction will help you get started...)

1. Make it happen…

The first step is to face change as often as you can. Volunteer for tasks that take you out of your comfort zone so that you get used to the feelings of discomfort and can tolerate them. You can strengthen your emotional ‘muscles’ in the same way that exercise strengthens the body. Even though you will still feel that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you hear about a ‘new initiative’, instead of letting it take over, you can sit it out knowing that the feeling will lessen over time.

2. Learn to embrace change

Next you should identify how you prefer to deal with the initial news. Some people need to find a quiet space to reflect on the news and quieten the ‘noise’ in your own head. Others need to sit and discuss what is happening and to sift through the news. If you choose the latter make sure your group has a healthy balance of positive and negative thinkers so that the conversation is constructive.

3. Spot the positive potential of the change

You also need to acknowledge that change is, or has the potential to be, positive. Even if your organisation is subject to a takeover or a restructure the possible outcomes (loss or change of job and career stability) can also lead to a better future (new opportunities, more income or development).

When you first hear about a new change write down all the potential ‘futures’ that you can imagine. You will probably start with all the things you fear but keep going and imagine all the opportunities. Include practical steps that you need to take to make things happen (even though the worst case scenario may not happen the process will help you manage the emotional turmoil).

The key to managing ‘big’ change is being open-minded to new possibilities. If you are struggling be prepared to ask questions to get a better picture of the future and what you can do right now to help yourself, your colleagues and the business.

4. ‘Doing’ is better than thinking!

When the time is right speak to your manager and see what you can do to help. In any change situation there will be extra tasks (on top of the usual routine) and it is usually the managers who absorb this extra work.

This step has a number of benefits. ‘Doing’ will help you overcome the initial feeling of insecurity as action gives you back a sense of control. You may also learn some new skills that you can use in future jobs. Volunteering will also strengthen the relationship you have with your manager and can also put you in a better position for future career opportunities and appraisals.

 

With big changes (e.g. redundancy or restructuring) you may need to get professional support to help you through what will be a difficult time. This can be provided by your employer, a mentor or someone outside the organisation that you trust to give you good career advice.

You may not be able to stop the change that is happening around you but you can do a lot to stop it overtaking your life and creating stress.

So, are you ready to change?