Sunday April 9 2017
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” George Bernard Shaw
In any career, change is a constant. This could be anything – something relatively minor such as an office reorganization (although you will be surprised how even that can cause angst!), a change that affects you directly such as a promotion or a change of boss, or a massive change that the company is going through as part of a transformation program. As an employee, you are already under pressure to perform – as if this weren’t enough, the framework against which that performance is judged often shifts as a result of these changes. And if you are to be successful (however you define success), you need to be able to deftly navigate your way past these changes. So, let’s have a look at some of the things which could change in most people’s careers, which I have broadly categorized into:
This is probably the easiest to handle. Changes under this category include new procedures or processes being introduced (e.g. new financial processes for placing orders), new systems (e.g. switching from Windows to Mac) and upgradation of existing methods (e.g. automation of your expense reports). As long as you understand the rationale behind the change and upgrade your skills to handle it, be prepared for some teething problems and are convinced that the company has taken adequate measures to minimise the impact of the change on the business, most employees get on with it.
This is much more uncomfortable. Examples of this may be getting a new boss, being assigned to a different country (I have had this happen to me 9 times in 20 years!), being promoted, moving to a different function (such as from a Financial role to a General Management one). This is where change gets personal. And where change gets personal, you have emotions playing a significant part. All change (in different degrees) affect us intellectually and emotionally. Accepting the change intellectually is far easier, however, unless we are bought in emotionally, we find it difficult to change. Even if we consider a “positive” change, such as a promotion, this will, in most cases, engender feelings of fear. Fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, lack of confidence etc. And while it’s natural for there to be a mix of excitement and trepidation in this case, it is critical to minimize this transitional phase and get stuck into the new role. Some of the ways you can do this are as follows:
This, by definition, does not happen very often – but when it does – boy, are you going to feel it! This is where an organization reinvents/reshapes itself. Where the old is thrown out and you ring in the new. This change could well be because of unexpected or rapidly changing market conditions and it will most likely involve elements of Transactional and Transitional Change as well. Expect the organization to change dramatically, job descriptions to change beyond recognition and, in many cases, job categories to be redefined which may well result in job losses. In addition to all the fears we went through in the Transitional Change category, you will have the added fear of losing your job, so the most natural thing to do would be to resist! To hope that if you complain long and loudly enough, somebody will listen. Well, don’t! Here is what you should be doing instead:
Becoming comfortable with change is an essential skill to have in today’s career. It is normal to feel anxious when faced with change, but it is your ability to embrace the change which will allow you to thrive and enjoy continued success.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” Maya Angelou