Dealing with workplace change

There are countless reasons change can occur in a workplace. After all, without change there’d be no progress, no innovation and no opportunity.

From something as simple as a new boss with different ideas from their predecessor to a mass restructure, significant technology upgrade or moving to new premises, there’s bound to be some kind of change in your workplace during the span of your career. 

This could lead to merging teams and resources, staff reshuffle, introducing or reducing flexi time, the number of employees on the payroll, a change in management structure or it could just be that your favourite colleague is leaving.

Change of any kind can be unsettling, particularly if it means there will be redundancies, or if your job changes significantly. The important thing is to find a way to deal with change in a way that works best for you. 

Embrace the change and give it purpose

Whether it’s a complete restructure, a change of technology or software, or a fundamental change in the way you work, embracing the opportunities this inevitably presents you with is a good way to survive the change, however hard they may be to spot at first.

  • Do you have the threat of redundancy hanging over your head? Rather than waiting it out, you could use this as just the push you need to find something bigger and better, something completely different, or to finally go out on your own.

  • If you’re feeling resistant to change, take time to reflect on why. Is it because the change will cause significant problems to daily life - such as taking away the flexi time that meant you can pick the kids up from school - or is it just that you fundamentally don’t agree with the direction things are going in? Once you’ve found your reasons for resistance, do what you can to address these.

  • Be open to suggestions. Change can be hard to accept, particularly if you were very happy with the way things were, but accept it you must, and those around you may have suggestions to make it easier.

  • Remember that, often, change is for the better. A positive attitude and big picture view about a new way of working, a new boss or an office redesign can lead to your own work life being enhanced in the long run.

Communication is key 

Change by its nature can be unsettling, and when people are unsettled they tend to speculate. With any workplace change, squashing the seeds of speculation and rumour before they get any air time is very important. How?

  • If you’re in a management position, be as open and transparent with staff from the start as the situation allows. If you don’t know something, admit that.

  • Address concerns before the change occurs. Even if there’s no solutions just now, acknowledge what employees or colleagues have to say, and do what you can to respond to any concerns.

  • Change is easier to handle if everyone is on the same page. Whether you’re getting a new boss or introducing an entire systems overhaul, bring your team together so everyone feels united and supported.

  • When a significant change is announced, open communication about how it will be handled so people have clarity is key. Is your entire office moving to a major city, or your department is facing a restructure? Explaining the process of what will happen next with as much detail as possible leaves less room for stress and frustration due to lack of information.

  • If you’re being left in the dark, tell your manager and ask if you can get more information in a more timely manner.

Be flexible and succeed

Like so many things in life, being flexible in your approach to any challenging situation can be the difference between coping and really not coping. By accepting that change is inevitable, and adopting an attitude of positivity and flexibility, you’ll fare better than those who resist the inevitable.

Accept that with any form of change, there is going to be a need to adjust, to work differently and maybe to alter your expectations of yourself or of your team.

  • If your work moving offshore, then give yourself space to process that and figure out if a change of location could work to your advantage, or whether you may wish to change roles.

  • Are you being asked to take on entirely new responsibilities that you never saw coming? Consider it a learning experience and make the most of this opportunity to enhance your CV. Extra bonus if there’s also a payrise attached.

  • The introduction of new software or technology in the workplace is a given in this fast-paced world. The best way to deal with this sort of change is to acknowledge that learning how to use new systems is probably going to happen to you more than once, and that it’s a great learning opportunity.

  • Don’t stand still. Ensure your skills are where they should be to keep up with the change and, if they’re not, ask for professional development opportunities through work or take matters into your own hands by doing an online course.

  • Once you know what way the flow is going to go, realise that you have options and plan how you’ll deal with these choices. Is it time to rattle your own career cage by changing things up and heading for new territory, or is it better to stick it out and deal with the end result in the best way you can?