Managing Change in the Workplace

It’s true to say that most people find change discombobulating. There are often two reactions to change on one hand, excitement, energy and anticipation of what’s to come; and on the other fear, anxiety and restlessness. In this blog we will look at strategies for managing personal and work changes.  

An analogy for change itself is the change of seasons. We get very used to the summer months where we have longer days and particular rituals – perhaps cricket, golf, holidays and bbq’s to name a few. And every year when the season changes to Autumn or Winter, we adjust again to a new normal. The nights draw in, our clothes get thicker, we turn to new rituals and ways of working. Essentially nature changes and so do we. 

This analogy is true for many changes in life. There is an adjustment phase that we can consciously adopt to, thrive through the changes as much as possible, even when they are not necessarily changes we choose or welcome. 

Firstly it can be useful to notice the myriad of changes that are going on in our lives, at a personal level as well as a team, peer, company or global level, that may be impacting us. 

Let’s take a look at some of the key areas that may be shifting. I encourage you to notice which of these are happening for you and those you would add to the list: 

Examples of personal changes

  • Health changes in ourselves and others
  • Divorce
  • Moving To A New House
  • Becoming a parent 
  • Becoming a carer 
  • Children growing up 
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Mental Health – increases or decreases in our levels of satisfaction and ability to cope or manage
  • Personal positions of responsibility e.g. governors, captain of a sports team
  • Studying for a qualification
  • Purchase of a second home
  • Caring for new animals
  • Ageing process
  • Family or friendship feuds

Examples of changes at work 

At work we often experience changes in some key areas: 

  • People and relationships
  • Job content and responsibility 
  • Physical Environment 

Examples of these may include:

  • Promotions, demotions and sideways moves
  • New manager
  • Different working environment, including office move, desk change or remote working
  • Company mergers and acquisitions 
  • Team changes resulting in different types of personalities to work alongside 
  • Peer group 
  • Friendships at work 

The first step in managing change effectively is to start noticing what is going on for us and start to notice how we are coping. Often we forget to do this first simple step as we are too busy doing to stop and notice. My clients find in our coaching sessions that they pause and realise just how many different shifts are occurring at the same time. This is empowering as we can be more aware about what we need.  

Factors impacting our ability to manage change successfully

Once we have built some awareness of the situation, we can then focus on how equipped we currently feel to handle what life is throwing at us or what we are proactively changing. Imagine an athlete running a marathon without sleep or water. These are factors that will have a huge impact on their success. Here are some potential factors that may be affecting us:

  • Change being chosen by you versus being imposed on you 
  • Whether you have experienced a similar change before
  • Health factors including illnesses
  • Amount of sleep
  • Our diet
  • Multiple changes in one go 
  • Our natural personality preference – some people are more likely to enjoy change than others 
  • Lack of exercise

Once we notice any factors impacting us we can make some alterations – it might be some small steps that make a big difference. Examples for clients I have worked with include getting more sleep, increasing exercise by one walk a day and going to the doctor to fix an ailment that they had been putting off. 

Unique Change Action Plan 

Consciously building a kit bag of tools and techniques that work for you is key to success. Consider this as your own unique way of managing change. In coaching sessions we work on this together and you may identify some key actions from categories such as:

  • Support network 
  • Self-Care activities 
  • Setting aside time to talk e.g. coaching sessions
  • Effectively communicating to others
  • Acknowledging our emotions
  • Professional Support such as coaching, therapy, doctors, and others. 

Reflect and Review 

The final step is to reflect and review. Often clients have tried ways of managing change before they have come to coaching sessions, however, they have not sustained them and often this is because it was a one-time only process. Giving ourselves the chance to review what is and is not working is a big part of successfully managing change as we can make adjustments. 

Emotional Rollercoaster

Often change models teach us about the rollercoaster of emotions we experience from sadness to chaos through to excitement and energy. Having sight of these as a normal part of the change journey means that we can look out for our “go to” emotions and use them to fuel us forward.

One client I work with enjoys a good cry, as he says it helps him let go of the negative emotions and move forward, another client enjoys an analytical rant about the change situation which enables him to then let go. Whatever your “go to” emotion is I encourage you to take responsibility for it, use it to its best effect and then when it has outgrown you, let it go. 

In summary here is a simple 4-step process to follow:

4-Step Change Process

  1. Identify all the different changes that are going on for you. 
  2. Notice any factors impacting your ability to handle the changes. 
  3. Identify your unique strategies for handling change – your unique change action plan.
  4. Review items 1-3 on a regular basis and repeat the cycle of awareness. 

I’m a big believer that most change brings with it positive growth and opportunity, consciously developing our ability to manage change and being ready for it, is one of the best things we can give ourselves. During this month I encourage you to spend time adopting this 4-step process, and I’d love to hear how you get on and what you notice.

If you would like to experience the benefits of coaching, we work with leaders who benefit from increasing their change readiness through coaching sessions. Click here to understand more about our executive coaching programmes:

If you wish to work on this, or have any questions for me, please get in touch for an initial no obligation consultation.

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