It has been about a week since last week’s election and I like everyone in this world am processing this change in guard. Without taking a side, this election reinforced some obvious truths about change and got me thinking about how to actually survive both big and small changes related to the workforce.
Throughout my career, I’ve walked on a pretty fertile ground for cultural, organizational and workplace change. I was working as a career counselor right after 9/11 and while my primary clientele had been young, African American and Latino adults, entering the workforce, I was now seeing an influx of middle-aged, rural, white job seekers who had built careers manufacturing airplane parts.
Many of the options and services that I offered naturally aligned with the needs of my original clients but explaining to a 40-year-old male that enrolling in GED classes was his best option and that the $60,000 per year salary that he was making in the factory was not coming back was much more difficult.
Obvious Takeaway: Change is not easy to process. I know, not shocking. Whether it be an organizational transition, modifications in our personal lives, or a simple change to the aisle our favorite product can be found at the grocery store, I have yet to react or see others react to shifts in a calm way (at least initially). The worst case scenario seems to be the easiest place to land. While chaos theory is fitting when thinking about some changes, it is not in every situation.
How do we keep from letting an imminent change prevent us from moving forward?
- Look for the opportunity. Please do not misunderstand this recommendation. I am not talking about silver linings nor am I channeling my inner Pollyanna. Opportunities available in the midst of a transition do not fall into your lap. In many cases, you have to actively seek them out or cultivate situations that will benefit you. Step away from the change, take the potential personal impact out of it (which is probably the piece that is giving you the most angst), and develop a plan.
- Develop your own plan. The person, organization, or entity driving the change has developed a strategy and in most cases, it was not developed with your best interest in mind. Your job is to have your own course of action, designed with your goals and needs at the forefront. If you don’t have a plan, make one. If you do have a plan, continue to work it. You may have to tweak it in the face of change but you should not let someone else’s change derail you.
Change happens but it doesn’t have to happen to us. The most important element in not only surviving but thriving during a period of change is remembering you are not “out of control”. What are some of your best tips for dealing with change?