Navigating Change In The Workplace

Transitions are the periods in your life when things are changing. Your job is changing, tasks are re-routed, a co-worker is leaving, new technology is coming to your workplace, etc. These are all changes that represent a transition from familiar to new. Transitions can be difficult because while they mark the beginning of something new, they also mark the end of something else. This ending may be painful, even if you feel good about the new incoming change. However, the challenges that arise can trigger uncertainty, sadness, or the feeling that you’ve lost part of your identity. You may spend some time feeling “in between” or unsure about what the future holds.  This is all normal as by and large human beings generally do not like change as we prefer to keep to what we know and what is familiar as it is more comfortable.

The most important thing you need to do is to realize that this rapid pace of change is not a temporary condition, rather, it is the new norm.  We will now always and continuously experience change.

Therefore, you have to change your mentality and accept the fact that change is permanent.  You have to adapt to the reality of today’s environment. You can’t simply hold on, expecting to weather the storm because it is not going away anytime soon. Better to decide to embrace the changes you face and adapt to whatever you must.

To adapt to this ever-changing work world, you need to develop a new set of skills.

These skills will allow you to work through what may feel like chaos without becoming part of the chaos. You can master those necessary skills which will allow you to thrive through the change.

Remember……change is the event, the transition is the process and we have to go through that process in order to effect the change.

The pace of change today requires us to be resilient. 

Resiliency is:

  • The ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
  • The capacity to survive and thrive despite stressful circumstances.
  • The ability to rebound from adversity and be better prepared for future setbacks or discouragement.
  • The human ability to recover quickly from disruptive change, illness, or misfortune without being overwhelmed or acting in dysfunctional ways.

Here are the approaches you can employ to better “weather the storm”:

  1. Adopt a change mindset by anticipating and accepting the change. It is easier to cope with change when you are expecting it. Adapting to change is about learning and challenging yourself. Try to anticipate the changes and look ahead to see what is coming, as this prepares you for any upcoming change. Make a conscious effort to stay flexible as this will also help you to adapt and accept new approaches.
  2. Acknowledge and work through your feelings. Allow yourself to grieve change that brings about feelings of loss or anxiety, such as the delay of a pricey project or the loss of a co-worker. It’s important to acknowledge and work through the loss. For example, talking with someone about your disappointment about the project delay or making a point to tell your co-worker goodbye and telling him how much you valued his work and enjoyed working with him. However, today’s world typically demands that we also move on as we work through those changes.

III. Take responsibility for your security. You must take care of yourself. Don’t wait for your organization to notice signs of burnout. Don’t take your well-being for granted. Know what’s going on and act in your best interest. Incorporate critical prevention strategies such as healthy eating, relaxation, exercise, and sleep.

  1. Accept and learn to recover from your mistakes. The state of constant change makes it more and more challenging to keep up with new programs, policies, procedures, etc. It takes time to learn and develop new ways of doing things. As with all learning curves, mistakes are inevitable, therefore, avoid beating yourself up over them.  Instead, correct it, figure out what went wrong, and then take steps to prevent the mistake from happening again in the future.
  2. Use humor. The rate of change can feel absurd these days. Dramatic changes are certainly serious, but allow yourself to laugh at the absurdity of a situation. Humor can help take the edge off, especially when you are feeling anxious about the unknown. Don’t take yourself too seriously either, instead, remind yourself that no one is going to die if you don’t get everything done today.
  3. Pace yourself. The world is not operating at a reasonable pace. You may not be able to control the pace of your environment, but you can control your pace. You can’t simply work harder or faster to get you through the changes you are experiencing, expecting that the world will eventually slow down and allow you to slow down, too. It won’t slow down so you have to set a reasonable pace.

VII. Prioritize your work. This is a great way to pace yourself.

Prioritize the tasks that are most important to your organization, to its customers, and to you. Prioritizing allows you to get the most important work done even when you can’t complete every item on your to-do list.

Choose what you can realistically do, and do it well. Give it your best, but understand your limitations. You can’t expect to do everything for everyone every day.

VIII. Take care of your health. Get sufficient sleep because your body requires sleep to stay healthy and alert. Sleep deprivation can make it difficult to concentrate, slow your productivity, and increase your risk of making mistakes. Attempts to produce more by sleeping less may backfire.

In addition, eat healthfully so that you have both the mental and physical energy to meet the demands of each day.  Finally, get sufficient and regular exercise to build strength and endurance and to relieve stress.

  1. Manage your stress levels. Talk to a trusted friend or relative about the challenges and feelings you’re experiencing. Find a healthy balance for the things that are important to you, such as your family and friends. Work is important, but your relationships are, too.  It is also important to find time for play, doing the things that you enjoy. Finally, lighten up and try to see the humor in things that happen rather than the calamity.
  2. Attitude. Try to have fun with new opportunities. Keep an open mind and try new things. Respond creatively to new situations. Apply skills you enjoy using to new areas. Whatever your interests are, find ways to include them in ways that benefit your organization, too. A positive attitude will go a long way toward to dealing with challenges and boosting your resilience.
  3. Take breaks. Stretch your legs by delivering some interdepartmental mail. Go for a walk outside, go to the gym at noon, play cards, or even take a quick nap during your lunch break. Focus is only possible for short periods of time so breaks are essential to maintaining it. Doesn’t hurt to hydrate or have a snack mid-morning either. Use your vacation time so that you do not reach burnout.

XII. Learn to identify your signs of burnout. It is sometimes hard to recognize burnout in yourself.  Therefore, it is important to pay attention to how your body reacts to stress so that you can better identify times when you are overloaded.

XIII. Avoid negative conversations. Negative people and conversations can be draining. They can waste your time and kill morale. Limit negative and self-defeating thoughts.  Instead, ask yourself, what you could do to make things better. Focus on the positives.

XIV. Surround yourself with positive people. Good moods can be contagious, so try to spend time with the people you like and doing things you like to do. Plan activities that you can look forward to. It doesn’t have to be something huge, it could be as simple as planning a walk with a friend or enjoying an ice cream cone.

  1. Smile. Research shows that smiling can actually boost your mood and since good moods are contagious, you will positively impact those around you, too. Research has also shown that it is easier to maintain a positive outlook when you are in a good mood.

It’s important to anticipate change. And you have to make room for it.  It’s there, and it’s a reality, so you have to work with it, not against it.  Those who are unwilling to embrace the changes we are constantly facing are going to have a very tough time, so it is far better to be positive, flexible, and willing to have an open mind about new approaches, procedures, and policies.


Sandy Chernoff
Sandy Chernoff
SANDY'S 30 years of didactic and clinical teaching in study clubs and continuing dental education, coupled with her almost 40 years of Dental Hygiene practice bring a wealth of experience to her interactive soft skills workshops. With her education background she easily customizes interactive sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients. Her energetic and humorous presentation style has entertained and informed audiences from Victoria to New York City. Sandy’s client list includes law firms, teaching institutions, volunteer and professional organizations and conferences, businesses, and individuals. Her newest project is turning her live workshops into e-learning programs using an LMS platform. Her teaching and education background have helped her to produce meaningful and somewhat interactive courses for the learners wanting the convenience of e-learning options. As the author of 5 Secrets to Effective Communication, Sandy has demonstrated her ability to demystify the complexities of communication so that the reader can learn better strategies and approaches which will greatly improve their communication skills and ultimately reduce conflict, resentment, disappointment, complaining, and confusion. As a result, the reader will be able to increase productivity, efficiency and creativity, improve all the relationships in their lives and ultimately enjoy a happier, healthier existence! Sandy blogs regularly on her two websites on the various soft skills topics that are featured in her workshops and e-learning programs.

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  1. Sandy I really like this. We often talk about creating change, leading change, and looking for the next big change. Far too little do we talk about the change that happens to us in our jobs and our families and our life as a whole. I love that you gave us a roadmap or guidelines that we can put in our life tool belt to be used as needed. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Larry, thank you so much! I am delighted that you liked this approach and appreciate your support and comments. This “community” is great as we all share our experiences and expertise to benefit each other. Have a great weekend.

  2. There are four perspectives I see for change. The mindset, the behaviour, the systemic, and the momentum.

    The good points you mentioned helps with the first two and builds a foundation for the last one. Systemic is the deep and detailed engineering to optimize and transform.