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Dealing with Change in Your Workplace

Most of us have been in a workplace where people are continually complaining about what needs to change. But when there is a rumbling about change, the same people suddenly become terrified, anxious and have suddenly completely changed their tune. They now don’t want anything to change.

Why do we fear and resist change? We fear change at work for a variety of reasons. These fears are often associated with fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, fear of criticism and fear of the unknown. Humans are very much creatures of habits. We like predictability and certainty - this puts us at ease and in control. Change takes this away. Change to some is seen as a threat – this can cause stress and anxiety.

How an organisation manages the process of change can dramatically increase or decrease our resistance and acceptance to it. However, we need to manage our own fears.

Here are 6 tips to help manage change in the workplace:

Acknowledge the change - the most important thing when change is happening in the workplace is to acknowledge it. Recognising and accepting change is one of the first steps towards managing and controlling your reaction to it.

Be positive - fighting change, presenting a negative attitude, having negative thoughts or ignoring change isn’t going to make it go away, it will only increase the fear. Turn the negatives into positives. Be open to new challenges and tasks. Ask yourself these questions - in the past when I handled change really well what did I do? How did I handle it? What actions did I take that worked well? What did I do to turn things into a positive?

Be flexible and embrace the change - adopt an attitude of anticipation and excitement, see change as an opportunity. Get involved, be part of the change – be an influencer, not a problem creator. This will help you feel empowered and less fearful.

Confront your feelings – first, you need to accept your feelings and then reach out to someone and talk to them. When change is imposed or out of your control you need to confront your feelings, remove any mental roadblocks, find the positives and then look forward not back.

Communication - communication is always important in the workplace but it is vital in a time of change. Part of the fear of change is the unknown.  If you are not being given the information you need, or feel you should be given, be proactive in finding out more. Don’t be negative when seeking the information, this will only close down the communication channel. Request meetings with your manager, with the group who are implementing the change and speak with your fellow co-workers to see how they are feeling. Be positive and ask constructive questions to find out the information you need to help you through the process.

Reduce stress and anxiety - in times of stress, we may feel tired and overwhelmed and this is the time when we need to focus on being fit, healthy and resilient. To be resilient you need to be calm and in control so that you are able to make good, clear and rational decisions. Focus on your exercise and nutrition, breathe deeply and smile. Even a walk to clear your head can do the trick.   

Change is inevitable in the workplace, so you must be able to adapt and move forward. It can be frightening, however, with the right attitude, outlook and actions, you can find positives, opportunities and enjoy the ride.

Sam Pratt