7 Tips To Cope With Change At Work Like A Pro
As a wise man once said, the only constant in life is change. Although we often fear it, without change, we wouldn’t be able to learn new skills, make new friendships, or abandon bad habits. For many people however, change can be difficult. We often find ourselves resisting developments we find new and strange, mostly because we worry about what could happen, instead of staying in the moment and dealing with the information we have. Change at work can be especially frightening, mostly because it’s often out of our hands. However, whether it’s a new boss or a reorganisation within your company, learning to cope with change at work can be an invaluable life skill. So, let’s run through some of our top tips to help you survive and thrive, no matter what comes your way throughout the course of your career.
1. Accept, don’t resist
This one sounds obvious, but there’s actually two different types of coping: escape coping, and active coping. Escape or avoidance coping is a maladaptive pattern of behaviours that involves avoiding thinking about the change that’s happening in your life, and taking no steps to deal with it on a practical or emotional level (think binging your favourite Netflix series after a bad breakup). In contrast, active coping allows us to acknowledge and accept that change is happening, therefore enabling us to deal with challenges head-on. Although accepting change when life seems stressful and unpredictable sounds difficult, there are some steps you can take to help the process along. Try to think of the change happening at work only in terms of the positive developments it might bring, instead of lingering on what might go wrong. Give yourself permission to acknowledge and accept whatever fears you experience along the way, but be determined not to allow them to overwhelm or panic you.
2. Ask questions
Mark Twain once famously said that, “I have known many troubles, but most of them never happened”. When there’s gaps in our knowledge, it’s human nature to make up the answers, which can often be scarier than the reality. It’s therefore a good idea to ask as many questions as you can about the new development to put your mind at rest. For instance, if you know you’re getting a new manager, make an effort to find out as much about him or her beforehand. If your department is being restructured, ask for more detail on exactly what will change and how. Asking even the simplest of questions can help you understand more about why change is necessary, and to prepare and adapt accordingly.
3. Talk about it
If there’s a change at work that’s making you anxious, then don’t keep it to yourself. Speaking to friends and family about what’s troubling you and hearing different perspectives can allow you to process what’s happening. Having this conversation with the people that know you best means you can gain valuable insight into how you can adapt, and also allows them to tell you about their own similar experiences which can put your mind at ease. A word of warning, however: avoid speculating too much about the changes ahead with your work colleagues, as this may fuel your anxiety further and be interpreted as gossiping by others.
4. Help your co-workers adapt
Chances are, if you’re feeling worried about change at work, your co-workers are too. Once you’ve come to terms with and begun to understand your new situation, you can provide support to your colleagues, particularly those that are more junior than you. It might be the last thing on your mind when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but helping others has actually been proven to reduce stress levels and improve the quality of relationships. Plus, if you’re focused on helping other people to deal with the transition, you’re less likely to focus on your own anxieties.
5. Use the opportunity to learn new skills
Whether it’s developing your emotional intelligence, improving your performance under pressure or finessing your people skills, change at work can be an opportunity to grow and develop both personally and professionally. If you’ll be required to adopt new duties that include unfamiliar processes and technologies, embrace the opportunity to add some new expertise to your CV. In fact, the whole experience could be the ideal opportunity to give your confidence a boost, as well as potentially discover new areas of interest. Plus, when the situation is behind you, you’ll have proven to yourself you can deal with change effectively, which will make future challenges seem less daunting.
6. Keep an eye on your mental health
As you deal with the changes and any challenges that occur as a result, it’s important to keep a close watch on your thoughts, feelings and emotions. If you start to feel overwhelmed or overly anxious, then you should consider talking to your manager about strategies you can implement to help you cope. As you’re dealing with stress, it’s also vital not to neglect your physical health. Although many of us reach for the comfort of chocolate or alcohol when we’re anxious, focusing on eating healthily and exercising can provide a much-needed boost to your mental resilience in times of uncertainty.
7. Keep your options open
Although it’s important to give yourself enough time to adapt to the changes that are happening at work, if you’re unhappy with the situation or feel that you’re being treated unfairly, it’s important to remember that you have options. No matter what industry you work in, the job market has never been better. It never hurts to have a conversation with a trusted recruitment partner to find out more about what opportunities there are for you, just in case you decide it’s time to move on.
Ultimately, it’s important to bear in mind that change at work has the potential to be a positive thing. If you’re getting a new manager, you might find that they’re incredibly supportive and will help you to develop new skills and talents. If your company is restructuring, it could be an opportunity for you to take on additional responsibility and prove yourself in new and exciting ways. Although change can be frightening, disruptive, and at times even overwhelming, it’s important to keep an eye on the bigger picture. With the right attitude and a practical approach, you can find the opportunity in any situation and embrace change for what it is: possibility.
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