How to Adapt to Change in the Workplace
How to Adapt to Changes in a Business Environment
In the business world, change is inevitable. Some changes are small and easy to adapt to, while others are large and are more difficult to process. No matter what kind of change comes up, you'll need to learn how to anticipate them and frame how you think about them. By reframing your mindset about change to be positive and by understanding the scope of the change, you can adapt to it in a more thoughtful way. In a business environment, you can research the change and find out how it could impact your work. You can also speak with your coworkers and understand how it might impact your workplace.
Choosing a Positive Mindset
Assess your current mindset about the change.At the beginning of this process, you will need to fully understand your current thoughts about the change. You may be excited, hesitant, angry, fearful, anxious, or ambivalent to the change. You may have multiple feelings or conflicting thoughts about the change and are unsure how you will react when the change is implemented. Take a few hours to think about the change that is being instituted and write down your thoughts.
- For instance, management might be instituting a new policy about overtime pay. Think about how this will affect you. Do you work overtime frequently? Do you rely on the additional money or is it an incentive for you to work longer hours? Or, the new policy may not affect you at all.
- Many people find it helpful to write their thoughts down as they reflect.
Accept that change is inevitable in business.Change is bound to happen, especially if you work in a field that is quickly growing and adapting, like technology. You may love how your business environment is at this moment, and a change may feel like a blow to your confidence. However, you should frame the way you think about this change as an opportunity to better your career and to implement new procedures into your day to day work.
- There will be technologies and procedures that become outdated and are no longer relevant to the workplace. You might have to learn how to use a new type of computer or software program because the old one has become outdated.
Reflect on how you’ve handled past changes.You have responded to changes in the past, even if they weren’t in your current workplace or career. Think about what that change was, and how you reacted to it. For example, you may have had to change offices with a coworker that you dislike. Did you get upset about the change and complain to management? Or did you discuss the change with your manager and work out a solution? Thinking about how you’ve responded to change in the past will help you to anticipate how you will react to this current change.
- It may be helpful to talk to someone who is close to you, like a spouse or best friend, and ask them about how you handle change. This can provide valuable insights as you begin to approach this new challenge.
Take responsibility for your response to change.Whether you have reacted poorly or positively to change in the past, you will have to take responsibility for your response. Understandably, some changes are much more difficult to cope with than others. Some have profound impacts on the way that we live our lives, and they can present other unanticipated challenges. However, you are able to control your emotional reaction to change.
- Think about whether there was a trigger for your response. You could ask yourself whether you resisted a small change at work because you were stressed about your home life, or whether when you became angry about a new policy there was something else bothering you. Understanding these triggers can help you take ownership of your responses to change.
Adopt a positive attitude.Your attitude and mindset will frame how you respond to the change and whether you are able to adapt to it within your workplace.Think about how you have responded to changes in the past and realize that a positive attitude can improve your future responses.At this stage, the change may or may not have been implemented into the business environment. If it has not already been implemented, this is your time to approach the change in a positive way. If it has already become a new policy or mandate, your positive attitude will reflect itself in how you incorporate the change into your work habits.
- For instance, your workplace may now require different sets of forms to be completed as a part of new regulations. Rather than thinking of these forms as a waste of your time, or something that you should dread doing, reframe your thoughts. Consider these new forms as a way to document your workplace productivity, and that they will allow management to effectively oversee business operations.
Hold yourself accountable for adapting to the new change.Whether the change has already gone into effect, or if it is still in the future, you can hold yourself responsible for how you will respond to it.It is helpful to think of this accountability in relation to time. The change may be deep, and will significantly change your workplace, or it may be a smaller change that will have less of an impact.
- Think about and write down what you want your response to be towards the change. You should include how long it will take you to adapt fully to the change. For example, a major policy change may take a few weeks to fully implement. You should give yourself time to adapt to the policy, but hold yourself accountability to following through on your goal.
Assessing the Impact of the Change
Anticipate how this change might impact your current work.In order to adapt to a change in a business environment, you need to be able to anticipate how the change will impact you, your work, and the workplace environment. The impact could range from very small to very large. The impact will depend on the scope of the change, what sorts of adjustments you will have to make, and how quickly the change will be implemented. Anticipating how this change will impact you will help you to manage your expectations and to adapt effectively.
- There may not be much that you will need to change. Some changes in the workplace will impact you more than others. Other changes will require you to make incremental adjustments over time in order to fully adapt. For example, a change in payroll policies may not affect you if you work in sales.
Research the policy, if needed.In the business world, some changes require companies and teams to undergo major overhauls. These policies may change how the company handles clients, impacts sales, or changes the leadership of the organization. You may or may not need to research the policy to fully understand it. It can be very useful to research the change that your organization is going to make to see whether other businesses have made similar changes. For example, the change might be in management styles and the structure of your executive team. You could search online for other companies who have made that same change to see how they responded to it.
- While situations are always different, seeing how similar changes have impacted businesses is a helpful way to understand how your business may respond. It can also help you to understand the scope of the change.
Talk to your boss or to management.Ideally, your management will have open lines of communication and be receptive to hearing questions and concerns about the new change that is being made. You should talk with your manager or supervisor if you have questions about the change, especially about what sort of changes that you will individually have to make and its impact.
- For instance, you could say, “John, I’ve been looking into the new policy about filling insurance claims. I want to make sure that I fully understand it before it goes into effect. Could you tell me a little more about how the claims are evaluated?”
Talk to your coworkers about how they are adapting.If you work in a business environment where other members of your team have to adapt to the same change, you can talk to them about the steps that they are taking. They may have suggestions to offer you about how you can adapt to the change. You can ask them how they have adapted and whether they are struggling with it and could use support.
- Avoid gossiping or talking negatively about the change and the people who suggested or implemented it. You want your mindset to remain positive, otherwise you may struggle to adapt to the change.
Creating a Work-Life Balance
Take a vacation.Coping with changes in the workplace can be stressful. It can be helpful to take a day off, or a few days, to spend time at home and relax. Find out whether you have any paid time off days and take advantage of them. Big changes in the workplace can cause a lot of stress, and taking some time off can help you recover from the stress and feel like yourself again.
- If you can't take an actual vacation, you should take short breaks during your workday to reduce the possibility that you'll become burned out.Take a five minute break from your desk to make yourself a cup of coffee, to walk around the office, or to go outside for a breath of fresh air.
Build healthy relationships with your coworkers.Friendships both in and outside of work are very helpful in reducing stress. Since you spend a considerable amount of time each day with your coworkers, it is helpful to build strong and healthy relationships with the people there. These relationships should have boundaries though; you shouldn't talk about things that are inappropriate in the workplace and your friendships should never distract from your actual work.
Establish boundaries.Your work is a very important part of your life, but it shouldn't be your entire life. It is unreasonable to expect that you can be on call for 24 hours every day.Setting boundaries between your work and home life, like not checking your email after 6pm or not taking work phone calls on the weekend, can help you compartmentalize your work and keep the two separate.
- These boundaries can help to limit the amount of stress that this change can have on your life. Your adaption to changes in the workplace shouldn't affect your home life.
Ask for support when you need it.Adapting to change can be difficult and it can wear on you, especially when the change is large and impacts a lot of different parts of your work. This can feel overwhelming at times, and you may feel like you aren't equipped to handle it. Even though it can be difficult to admit that you need help, support from other people can be very helpful.
- Talk to your supervisor if you are struggling with making the transition, and see if they have any recommendations about adapting that could help you. You can also talk to someone who is close to you in your personal life to see if they have an outside perspective on your situation.
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