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All Change Please

Restructuring, redundancy, redeployment; mergers, acquisitions; downsizing, upsizing, expansion, streamlining; cost cutting, cost savings, cost justifications.

All the above signal change, and if you’re like most people, change might just sit a bit uneasily with you. This is true whether you’re changing where your desk is positioned or changing jobs. It’s very rare to have no reaction to change.

Though, of course, some people thrive on it and actually have a hard time maintaining any kind of status quo.

In this day and age of working practises, it’s unusual to exist with no change in your job or working environment. Yes, some people still do stay in one job for life, but that is no longer the norm as it was just a decade ago. People change jobs and even careers at a remarkable pace these days and yet, somehow, their emotional reaction to change hasn’t caught up with what they’re actually doing.

Now all the psychologists will tell you that even when you’re doing something by choice and that will supposedly make your life better (like changing job or moving house), you will still experience stress. So imagine how stressful things can be if you didn’t choose the change yourself; if it was imposed on you.

In the workplace you can almost be guaranteed that in most cases, one change after the other will indeed be imposed, not chosen. When this happens, there’s all kinds of resentments and disgruntled feelings that sweep around the office like flu: Why weren’t we consulted? It’s not going to work anyway. I could do a better job than them planning this move. Etc.

If this sounds familiar and is something you have in the past, or are going through now, we have a couple of challenging tips that might make it a whole lot more manageable.

First, you could decide to choose to go along with it all without a single gripe. ‘What?’, we hear you shout. Yes, you could take a look at whatever situation you find yourself in and choose something to agree with about the change. It doesn’t have to be something major, or even the key reason the change is happening; it should, however, be something you genuinely think is good. Sometimes (more often than not) we get so focused on the downside of change that we overlook the fact that there may very well be lots of upsides at the same time.

Second, initiate some change yourself. This, too, can be quite small, but its affect can be far reaching. The reason for this is the difference between passive choosing and active choosing. When change is imposed on us, we can go quite passive, either through frustration, anger, fear, anxiety or a combination of all of those feelings.

Once we become active, we create more energy, we get things moving, we feel less a victim to change than an active participant.

Finally, the thing about being actively involved in change is that you get to stay in charge of some of it, however minor a role, and you are seen to be someone who makes things happen.

Not a bad thing in an ever changing world.

Jo Ellen and Robin run Impact Factory who provide Change Management Training, Presentation Skills, Communications Training, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching for Individuals.