Most advice about change is directed at leaders, often dealing with managing employees’ reactions to change. There are far fewer books and articles written from an employee-facing-change perspective.
To roll with change in your organization, start with these tips:
1. Recognize your starting point as it relates to change. In general, do you go with the flow and adapt quickly? If yes, hurray for you! However, if change or ambiguity throw you for a loop, you need to prepare for change more carefully by attending to the following tips.
2. Be honest about your concerns and feelings. Admit (at least to yourself) if the impending change creates anxiety, fear or even anger. The only way to move past these emotions is to acknowledge them first. Take some time to examine your reaction to the upcoming change. Seek the counsel of a trusted mentor to help you formulate a plan to manage your feelings while you make the necessary adjustments.
3. Learn about the context for change. Talk with your boss about why the change is important to the organization. If you get the business case for the change – and the negative impact of not changing – you’ll find it easier to buy in.
4. Ask lots of questions, but don’t expect all the answers right away. Your leaders don’t have a fool-proof crystal ball. There will be unanticipated events, modifications and impact. Some ambiguity is to be expected.
5. Choose your behavior. You could join the vocal opposition or an underground movement for the status quo. While that may delay the change, your reputation will be damaged. If you can’t be an early adopter, strive to be at least a neutral-to-positive force for change. Above all, don’t feed the gossip mill, and confront peers whose behavior is inappropriate.
Some changes may so profoundly affect the organization or your role that staying on the job is difficult, even impossible. As with any unknown, expect the best AND prepare for the worst. As Charles R. Swindoll said, “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”
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I completely understand an initial resistance to change, especially since most organizations do a poor job implementing a change process. When I work with groups and we’re discussing the topic of change (and when I’m facing “change” myself) I try to remember that our intial perception is that the change is requiring that we give something up or lose something (the status quo), and if we want to put a positive spin on “change” we should think about what we will gain or the improvements that might be realized because of the change. Change isn’t always “taking away”…it’s most often “adding to”…it’s not so hard to take when we take a look at what we’ll get versus what we’ll lose!