Adapting to changes in the workplace is challenging. Unexpected events, such as COVID-19, force us to change how we live, our careers, and aspirations.
Unfortunately, the world is moving into a period of unprecedented unpredictability. Nobody is quite sure how things are going to work out.
The good news is that there is plenty you can do to manage your own situationand adapt to change as it confronts you. Here’s our advice.
Many people live their lives in the past, reminiscing about how good things once were. You see this sort of thing when graduates discuss their student lives or when partners describe a past relationship.
To prevent this, let go of the idea that it used to be great. Think realistically about what your working life was like in the past and how it felt. For most people, there was a lot of angst and fear.
For instance, you might have worked hard for a boss for years for no reward. You put in the hours and the time, but you didn’t get to where you wanted to be. Everyone overlooked you for no apparent reason.
The trick here is to recognise where you are now and the recognition that you have. Even if it comes with more responsibility and stress, remind yourself of the powerlessness and nihilism you felt before.
The next step is simply to accept the change. No working environment ever stayed the same for long. It constantly shifts due to new competition, events, technologies or working practices.
In fact, change is the only constant in life. If things were completely static, the world would be a boring place. Everyone would know the future and it would be hard to work towards anything meaningful.
Just look at how your body and nature change. Some shifts are slow while others occur far more rapidly. Even if you get a new boss, have to move departments or need to change your career entirely, there’s always a silver lining, hidden in there somewhere.
The trick here is to allow reality to do whatever it needs to do. Don’t try to cling to anything.Remove yourself from the attachment ego that craves everything staying the same forever.
Even if your working environment changes, that doesn’t prevent you from setting new goals. In fact, when things change, it helps to refocus yourself and reconsider your priorities. Remember, you can’t control everything that happens in your life. You can only laud it over about 20 percent of what happens. The remaining 80 percent has to do with other people’s actions.
Because of this, set new goals and work towards them, but don’t get attached. Find ways to shift your mind so that you can cope with the new work realities that you face.
One way to do this is to identify just one thing you’d like to achieve to get back on track. It could be something external, such as completing a project, or something internal, such as reducing the number of ruminating conversations you have with yourself.
During a company change,you may feel overwhelmed and lost. You might walk into work worrying about losing your house or your car because there’s so much uncertainty.
However, by recognising that you still have control over 20 percent of your life, you can steer it in the right direction. Even if you’re a middle manager facing the prospect of losing your job, you can always apply for new ones.
The pandemic fundamentally changed how people work. Staff began working at home instead of the office for the first time in more than 300 years.
The key here is to simply absorb these changes rather than psychologically fight against them. Learning how to manage remote teams, for instance, is a great way for managers to up their game. Once you understand new relationship dynamics properly, you’re in a much better position to lead your team and get things done.
Another idea is to take a friend from work out to lunch and discuss how you will accommodate these changes. Including new people in the conversation can add fresh perspectives. It can also help to break up patterns of negative thinking (something that can develop easily if you spend a lot of time alone working from home).
Many times, you’ll find that these conversations make you realize that your workplace isn’t as bad as you thought it was after all. Once you learn how to deal with certain issues, it makes it much easier to move forwards.
Workplace stress and anxiety usually arise when you feel like you don’t have control over a situation. No matter what you do, you feel powerful, stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Unfortunately, when you feel bad, it starts to affect everyone else’s morale, which is particularly bad for people who work in teams. Negativity spreads and productivity begins to fall.
If you try to control colleagues, your boss or customers, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. It’s simply not possible. All we can control is our own thoughts and actions. Your business might be facing lawsuits, disruption by competitors, and changing business cisrcumstances. Leaving the door every morning thinking about these things is a recipe for depressoon.
If you feel upset and stressed about changes at work, see it more as a quest or a game. It doesn’t have to be so serious. It’s not about survival. You’ll carry on living even if everything goes wrong.
Don’t worry so much about the big things. Rather, focus on the smaller, more manageable tasks right in front of you. Use them as a way to regain control of the situation and move forward with your career. Remember that nothing can change your circumstances other than you own actions. Nobody is coming to rescue you.
If you’re struggling to adapt, saying “yes” more is another strategy you can try. Having the notion that changes are just “crazy” and you’re not going to do it often makes the situation more stressful. By contrast, going with the flow makes things considerably easier because you’re priming your mind to deal with whatever new challenges come your way.
For instance, suppose you are a Twitter worker dealing with the arrival of a new CEO with a different philosophy on life. You can either battle his decisions all the way and eventually wind up getting fired, or you can reorientate your outlook, looking at all the positives that will come from his actions. If you keep thinking about the negatives, then it will get in the way of your work and you won’t feel motivated to do a good job.
Another way of putting this point is to think in terms of “possibilities” not impossibilities. It’s easy to say things like “oh, that probably won’t work because…” Try to get out of this habit and, instead, truly ask whether something is possible. From your current vantage point, it may seem like a particular tasks is utterly impossible, but in 12 months’ time, you may wonder why you ever doubted yourself.
Rather than just reacting to changes at work, it may help to simply ask more questions. Instead of getting all emotional about something that’s happened or experiencing shock and worry, find out as much as you can about the change in circumstances. Often, it’s the fear of the unknown that’s holding you back.
Alleviating ambiguity is a good way to help yourself feel calmer about the situation. Even if it’s bad news, you still know where you stand.
Don’t hang around, waiting for people to give you the information you want directly. They won’t. Instead, be proactive, ask sensible questions, and get in touch with as many people as you can.
All of the biggest opportunities in history came from disasters. When things go wrong, it actually gives people a chance to put things right. Just look at what happened after WWII.
Getting comfortable with changes at work requires this type of reframing. Sure, changes in your circumstances seem like a disaster if you only focus on what’s lost. However, if you concentrate on what you have to gain, it makes the situation far better.
Don’t think about things like the way a particular change was communicated with you. Even if you boss sent out a terse email, don’t take it personally. Just imagine what could happen in your life for the better even if things really do go wrong for you.
Next, think about whether you actually want a change. Many people say that the disasters that afflict them in their lives are also the best things to have happened to them.