How do you deal with change in the workplace?

How do you deal with change in the workplace?

Do you embrace the uncertain, the new, the (initially) incomprehensible, seeing the opportunity to learn new things, do old things more efficiently and, ultimately, change yourself for the better?

Or do you resist, object, obstruct and kick up a right-royal-stink about change?

Me? I’ve done both, but would obviously like to think I’ve done more of the former than the latter.

I’m not talking about change in the sense of changing the brand of milk you use in the office kitchen (although I’m sure there’s been a few storms in teacups about that, too; pun intended). I’m talking about major workplace change, business changes, role changes, directional changes; the very changes that often promise so much opportunity, but that cause many of us to seize up, if only initially.

Change within any organisation isn’t necessarily easy, which might explain why there are entire companies, degrees and movements dedicated to ‘change management’. I’ve always found that a bit odd, because, in my mind, the existence of dedicated – often external – change agents can position change as though it’s a foreign concept to companies when, as far as I’m concerned, if a business isn’t changing, it’s not going forward.

People, tastes and, notably, technology, all change constantly; businesses who don’t change themselves or innovate to remain relevant quickly fall into the annals of history. Remember Kodak? Blackberry?

Like it or not, your business, my business, everyone’s business must change; it’s inevitable. Why then, do so many of us find it so difficult within the context of our work?

I think it’s human nature; we naturally fear what we don’t understand. Depending on the nature of a change in your workplace, understanding it and ‘getting on board’ isn’t always easy.

When change is communicated to us in terms of what’s changing, why it’s changing and how it directly affects us, however, that initial resistance often subsides. Many businesses wonder why their organisational changes aren’t embraced, particularly if they see those changes as positive. But if they asked themselves whether they were communicating those changes clearly, credibly and transparently, they’d likely answer ‘no’, or accept they weren’t doing it as well as they could be. Indeed, the bigger the organisation, the more complexities are involved in change, and that’s perhaps where those change management boffins come into play.

My point is this: communicating change clearly, confidently, and consistently can prevent dissent and, importantly, speculation.

Without the facts, there’s just a vacuum, and rest assured team members will fill it with information, correct or otherwise. Even with the facts, some change won’t be embraced – let’s face it, some things just aren’t going to be popular no matter how they’re communicated – but with the what, the why and the how freely available and paired with encouragement throughout the change process, dissent can be minimised.

No, change isn’t easy, and sometimes scary, but staying the same is scarier. I’d prefer to be, and stay, on top. What do you think?

More reading:

The essential element of surprise
Change happens
Organisational change and the importance of your employer brand
How to get ‘change’ front and centre in your business
The dawn of the ‘contsumer’: Are you prepared?
10 rules of communication for leaders


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