Suggestions for Dealing with Change
With the current downsizing, rightsizing etc. that is happening in American business today, there are a few things that should be remembered by people affected by the changes. I predict that we will look back on this time as one of the stupidest times in the history of management. Much change being implemented simply isn’t needed and many organizations are and will find that they have cut too deep into their organizations leaving them vulnerable to poor quality products, poor service, and poor morale. Overworked employees make mistakes from fatigue and put the organization at risk from a safety and quality perspective. Tension continues to rise as we expect our workers to do more with less. By the time the realization hits us the damage is done to the business and the reputation of the business. What amends are made are too little for the remaining workers and too late to ward of a fierce competitor waiting in the wings. Many organizations have offered Early Retirement Options or “packages” to senior employees to get the older more expensive employees off the payroll. The problem with that is that it leaves the newer, more educated but less experienced employee to take up the slack without the vital experience of the senior worker. While the depth of the balance sheet expenses narrows making stockholders and executive cost cutter’s happy, the depth of the knowledge base gets wider frustrating and stressing out the very people who make the product and deliver the service. Without this knowledge base critical decisions take longer and simple operating problems are now monumental for the novice to solve alone. Sometimes the change is necessary. When this happens a new awareness is called for if you are to handle the change positively. In those cases, here are some suggestions for dealing with change.
Understand that you are critical to the reorganization process. You are responsible for you own adjustment to change! In order to adjust, ask yourself several questions:
- What do I want to have happen in my job, my life, my career?
- What am I willing to do to get that?
- Is what I am currently doing helping me get what I want or hurting me in the process?
- What makes the most sense for me to do today to help me get what I want?
Things to Remember…
You control your attitude.
While you cannot stop the progress and outcomes of change, you can control your attitude about change. You can choose to brood, be angry, feel helpless and bitter but is unlikely that will help you physically or mentally. However, you can choose to seize opportunities to grow and take steps in new directions every day if you wish. Living in the past is not much help when you are facing the future.
Recognize that management will make mistakes.
Don’t expect management decisions to always be right or even to make sense from your point of view. There are no standard treatments or pat solutions to managing the change process. Your organization is unique, some decisions that look like mistakes may be the best of the only bad alternatives from which a choice must be made. Generally, your best interests are in the heart of members of management even though decisions many not look like that sometimes.
Swim with the current rather than against it.
The most important life saving rule in dealing with change is that you will not stop it. You must find your way with it. Perhaps you’ve been to the beach and are aware of the “undertow” which periodically affects swimming conditions along the beach. Many travelers are caught in the undertow and find themselves being pulled out away from the beach. A few panic and fight the powerful currents that carry them. The survivors however, know that to swim along with the current will bring you to shore only a few hundred yards down the beach if you relax, don’t panic and swim with the current.
Recognize that restructuring isn’t the “cause” of everything.
Remember the “good ole days”? Well even in the good ole days there were issues and concerns too. Change brings with it a desire to return to times of our memories when things weren’t moving so fast. However, if you really think about it, times are less stressful when you remember them as times when things were really going the way you wanted them to. Times were moving fast then too, you were just on a different side of change at that time. Downsizing, restructuring, merging, relocating, etc. are all organizational behaviors of our times they happen for reasons much larger that just those that effect a single company or event.
You may experience feelings about work that concern you. Like getting frustrated, temperamental, disgusted, angry and even afraid. If your feelings are managing you to the extent that you are not able to continue with your personal and work goals today, then perhaps you need to rethink whether you are reacting to change or acting with change. If you react to change too long, you can become negative, sad, depressed, and be a “corporate whiner” But if you are acting with change, you can be more accepting and though sometimes frustrated and even afraid, you still have the emotional energy to stay in control. Ask yourself, How am I feeling? Is this feeling helping me? What might I do that would help me feel differently?Then, take action. That makes the biggest difference.
Worrying doesn’t change things, actions do!
Worrying is a kind of voodoo activity that humans engage in falsely thinking that worrying will change events in life. Actually, there is no connection between worrying and constructive outcomes in life. There is however, a connection between positive actions and positive outcomes. So when you find yourself worrying, Ask, Is this helping me? If it is keep worrying. My bet is that your answer will mostly be no. If so, then ask “What can I do that might move me a little closer to my goal ( what I want) than worrying? Then, haul off and do it! Stay busy at work and focused on your personal plans and goals.
YOU ARE NOT YOUR JOB!
In spite of the fact that you have been doing your job for a long time. You are not your job. You are more than that! We live in a society that defines us by what we do. Yet, who we are is far more important than what we do. It is important during these times of change that you pace yourself and that you take time for yourself. Make sure you are eating right, getting plenty of rest, (I know I sound like your Mother!) and intentionally increase your exercise regimen during these times. These behaviors are known to impact a healthy mind and body during the trauma of corporate change.