Maintaining Focus Despite Repeated Cycles of Organisational Changes
Many readers will appreciate that it is often not the subject of a change which presents the greatest challenge; rather the cultural impacts which are likely to occur as a result of the change. Repeated cycles of change have been the norm for many years in Australian businesses, with strong and decisive leadership essential to sustain motivation and focus. Here are my tips for keeping positive and resilient during challenging periods:
- Understand the change has a finite timeframe and the feeling of unrest will not last forever. Most change in organisations involves transitioning to a new situation, whether it be the result of a new structure, process or system. Projects like these may have to factor in initially unforeseen challenges, but this is common in change management and necessitates additional planning – it is generally not a crisis.
- Find yourself a ‘buddy’ who is normally a bit upbeat and seems to have a glass half full – spend time listening to the other side of the story. Objectivity is essential during periods of change, particularly difficult times. Talking issues through with others helps to keep things in perspective. A buddy builds a base of trust through which problems can be questioned and emotional responses kept in check.
- Keep yourself informed, ask questions, be curious – being informed can help to minimise the negative rumours which will undoubtedly surface during the change. Don’t bury your head in the sand or get overly focused on the minutiae of a situation. Ask questions and seek clarification from your leaders throughout the change process. Take the time to read the communications as they are issued and ensure you attend meetings and gatherings where updates will be shared. Also, if you have a question, the chances are high that your peers also have these questions – it is ok to ask, if not, you will be none the wiser!
- Your wellbeing is important – look after yourself so stress is an unlikely visitor. Understand where you derive your personal energy from and ensure that you incorporate this into your daily routine; encourage the same for others. Work smart, ensuring that you find downtime in order to reflect, as this will help you to sustain the pace.
- Make a clear decision to stay away from the ‘black hatters’, avoid the rumours and gossip and make a stance to not become involved in the negativity. Personal accountability at work is essential; be involved in the change process through observation and engagement in order to ensure that you have the facts. Don’t rely on assumptions, rumour and innuendo. Be brave, when you hear the negativity, challenge it!
- Get involved in the change – let leaders know that you can play a role (it keeps you informed and it demonstrates keenness to be a part of the future state). The cycle of change is constant, even if a specific project has a finite beginning and end date. Adapting to new circumstances and anticipating future states is part of taking ownership of your role and input to the organisation. Change brings both learning and opportunity in different ways and it can be fulfilling to have shared a journey with others, as well as developing good skills for the future. Nominate yourself for a role in the change program, request an opportunity to be mentored by a change leader or offer to help out where extra arms, legs and ideas are needed.
- Simply choose to be positive, honestly, it works – aim to engage with others, work towards a satisfying workplace and recognise that change is a part of what we experience every day. Whatever stage of your career, maintaining a positive mental attitude is paramount to professional and personal success. Work and change go hand-in-hand and as the saying goes, ‘you get what you give’. Attitude is a choice and it is important to focus on remaining positive. Fighting an inevitable change is exhausting and almost always a waste of time and effort – find the opportunity in the change and make it work for you!
Remember that the world of work has changed so much in 20 years, due to both significant external and internal elements, that we now live in a permanent state of transition – and this actually breeds exciting opportunities for innovation and advancement. Our own experience in this journey takes self-awareness, effort and focus in order to intellectually and personally ensure that we can keep perspective and positivity.
It is your choice how you respond to change!