Change is a fact of life. Don’t resist it; thrive in it!
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Everything is subject to change. Our lives, the communities and societies we live in and the organizations we work for are all affected by waves of change. Some are gradual; others traumatic; some are of our own making, many are beyond our control.
In these days of takeovers and mergers, chances are you’re going to be caught up in some form of major workplace change at least once in your career.
To cope with an unpredictable world you must build an enormous amount of flexibility into your organization. While you cannot predict the future, you can get a handle on trends, which is a way to take advantage of change and convert risks into opportunities.
Whether it’s a new job or a new boss or a new direction, the best career survival strategy is to respond effectively to these four stages of workplace change.
Stage One: There seems to be something different: how to act before the change
If you’re lucky, you’ll have some advance warning and time to prepare. But most of the time, you just have an uneasy feeling of something going on behind closed doors and hushed conversations. The management seems extremely busy and inaccessible.
Do not stay buried behind your desk wishing for everything to be all right. Go out there, stay informed and start thinking about your options for riding the waves of change.
Stage Two: Getting Acquainted: The First Couple of Months
In the first weeks of the transition, take extra care to be visible, productive and open to change. This is not a good time to go on vacation. Consider thoroughly if this is a good job for you to stay in or should you start looking for another job.
If you have a new boss, ask for a meeting to discuss your background, to provide an update on your projects and to find out about the new priorities for your team, department or division.
Stage Three: After six months- where do you stand?
Now that the dust has settled, it’s the time to measure your position. Are you actively participating in the change or are you on the sidelines? Did you get reassuring comments or positive feedback? If you are in the dark, take the risk and request a meeting with your boss to discuss your performance. Don’t be satisfied with an evasive or avoidance answer. Performance feedback is essential during times of organizational transition. If all the signs are looking good, you can start breathing a sign of relief. But, don’t let your guard down completely. The next six months are also very important.
Stage Four: After a year- is everything clear now?
After a year or more has passed, start asking if the sense of crisis has passed or if the atmosphere is still very hectic despite many attempts to try to fix what’s not working. If all is running smoothly, then you’ve come through the storms of change and now are going on to calmer times. But if things are still troubled, then you may decide to take a break from the relentless change. You can try to find a calmer port within your company or you may need to seriously consider finding a new position somewhere else.
Always keep in mind that taking control of one’s career sometimes means making some very hard decisions. But once a decision is made and action is taken, then you can get on with your life.
The Business Lobby Team