On the eve of this presidential election, I'm reminded about the only constant in life, being change. Our political system demands it, while many of us like to take it in small doses in our personal lives. Some of us manage change fairly easily, while some of us get dragged kicking and screaming into whatever change is being forced upon us.
This election, at its core, is about a changing of our leadership. A choice between someone who will continue to push our current strategy, or someone who is considered an outsider with fresh ideas. And even though the former is familiar in many ways, they would be a new face. Both tasked with taking on the current challenges of the office, and new ones that none of us could imagine.
There's a comfort, to some, in our current president. At this point in his presidency, you know what to expect, and it's the unknown that tends to make change so difficult. Add to that, the controversy that surrounds each candidate, and the comfort with a president most would view as more stable is understandable. But we must move on.
In the workplace, we are witness to a variety of changes as well. They may be small changes like a new printer, coffee machine, or a new security training class. Or they may be large changes like a new manager, new performance goals, layoffs, or restructuring.
The same fear of the unknown haunts us when these changes occur. Even the most adaptable individuals can experience a bit of angst when changes are introduced. There's a lot of information on how to deal with changes in the workplace, like this article, and the information is great. I'd like to add to the many sources of guidance on dealing with change in the workplace.
My HR Guy Perspective
1. You are not bound to the change. If you truly disagree with whatever the change is, you have the freedom to walk out of the door. Two weeks notice is desired, but you can leave now.
No one wants to lose their talent, so hopefully there is a more productive way of managing the change, but if your plan is to continue to complain about the change long after it has been finalized, you should head to the door.
2. You are not always right. I see so many people who oppose change because they think they have a better idea. The truth is, every challenge likely has many different solutions. Breaking them down into right or wrong is looking at it incorrectly. Everyone has their own experiences that inform their decision making, and you should at least attempt to see it from the other perspective. If you still don't see it, have a discussion and present your opposition. If you have authority, give the individual the latitude to make (what you see as) a mistake. That's how they will learn. If you have no influence, and after a conversation you still don't agree, you either get on board or see number 1.
This all goes out the window if we're dealing with things like financial misconduct. You have an obligation to push back, and if you're in a public organization, you have an obligation to report it. If you're not sure, talk to your Human Resources person.
3. Stop Lying! When dealing with change, we tend to hide our fears, and point to someone else's shortcomings. But, what are you truly scared of when thinking about the pending change? Do you fear you will lose your job? Do you fear money will be lost? Might the change offer you new challenges to overcome (you're being asked to do something new, or do something better)?
These are all understandable feelings, and once you get to the root of your fear, you can begin to rationally deal with it. Most changes in the workplace are beyond our span of control, so our best bet is to find a way to cope. You can't do that if you don't know what your fear really is. Sometimes, it's hard to see this on our own. Talk it through with someone if this is the case, and see what you come to.
4. Be Selfish. We are so quick to say we want to grow, become better, and do all of these trans-formative things. Guess what? Much of our growth is created through change. Like anything else in life, ride it as best as possible, and come out better on the other end. Without change, you likely stay right where you are, and that's not productive.
A key here is communication. Speak with your manager, or your mentor, and talk through the ways this change can benefit you and your career. What might you learn, or what new skill might you grow.
5. Don't be a Roadblock. I recall when President Obama was elected, there were a few politicians who came out and said, "I want this president to fail." This was so shocking to me as anyone who loves this country should want the president to be successful.
Disagree all you want about the change, or the direction, but (assuming everyone wants great things) we should all champion success. If your plan is to block every attempt for the change to be successful, you are not only hurting yourself, you are hurting your team and ultimately the company. And one thing I can promise you, in most cases, the company will outlast you. Life is too short to put up that fight, so see number 1, and get the heck out of there.