Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Change is constant, within and outside ourselves. Few people I know would – without reflection – call it perfect. It’s hard. Humans resist it. We don’t like what we don’t know. We don’t like uncertainty. So often at work, the decisions to change come don’t come from our own passionate desires to improve and change, but from organizational happenings that feel beyond our control.
Change at work can be small, like being assigned a new project, big like getting a new boss, or huge like a re-organization. Any of these can cause a certain amount of stress. So what’s to do? Here are my 4 Ps for handling disruption.
1. Be Practical. First, accept that there is and always will be change; fighting that fact will only cost you energy. Accept that change often means a period of uncertainty or even chaos. Acknowledge your fear, frustration, and confusion, but strive to understand the reality of the landscape as best you can and deal with the needs at hand.
2. See Purpose. Ask questions. Challenge what you must. Get to a point where you can at least understand the intention behind the changes and the desired results. Now, embrace that purpose, find your part in the solution, and join with your leadership to drive the team in that direction, communicating and sharing the purpose with your team as much as possible.
3. Be Positive. This is not to say you should pretend you are a ray of sunshine. Rather, ensure you tell yourself the whole story. The whole story has both negative and positive sides. Evaluate, and work to move yourself forward. Try to see the improvements promised, to look at things from a process perspective, and to stay upbeat. You’ll be less stressed AND you’ll be part of the solution. Negative energy and stories are only going to hinder positive outcomes, so identify and embrace the up sides, and go forward.
4. Be Proactive. This is two-fold. First, look for the new opportunities and needs within the changed environment; find a place where your skills and expertise can fill gaps and where you can shine. Then go for it—change always contains opportunity, why shouldn’t it be yours?
Second, in the longer term, you need to know that change IS constant – in your company, in the market, and in your personal landscape of motivation and balance. Keep your portfolio up to date; continue to gain new skills. Stay abreast of your value in the market. This helps you feel confident and secure because you’re taking charge of the one thing in this work-world that you DO control: you.