In 1920s, Howard Phillips Lovecraft wrote in his novel ‘Supernatural Horror in Literature’:
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
These words by Lovecraft are still applicable today, particularly in the office.
Majority of us anticipate changes in the workplace and frequently discuss with our coworkers how workplace dynamics should change for the better.
However, when things actually change, most of us are often scared and become uneasy.
Fear of Change
Why do we dread and resist change so much?
Well, we are afraid of change in the workplace for a number of reasons. Our dreads arise often due to the fear of disappointment, fear of refusal, fear of disapproval and fear of the unfamiliar at work.
According to Tamar Chansky, writer of ‘Freeing Yourself from Anxiety’, changes in the workplace are one of the topmost life stressors individuals can fall victim to.
He believes that the way human beings prosper in life is through monotony and certainty which provides them a sense of autonomy. Therefore, when humans experience any big changes, they are surprisingly flung into a state of ambiguity and start resisting the change.
However, whether we like it or not, change is inevitable and essential these days for companies and establishments to subsist and flourish.
Managing Change in the Workplace
Efficiently managing change in the workplace is vital for any company’s success. Organizations shrink in size, reduce their employees, subcontract their operations, reorganize their administrative structure, and upgrade their technology.
Handling all of this transformation can be intimidating. However, being capable of managing change effectively is important for your career.
Whether you work for an organization or run your own business, when company procedures and strategies change (particularly the ones you have been using for a long time), it can be quite challenging to adjust and perform tasks in a different way.
Despite the change being apparently beneficial and welcomed, most of the times you will have to learn and adapt to a new approach of working.
Instead of going astray, begin preparing for effectively managing change and integrating modifications into your professional life with these seven tips:
1. Keep your emotions under control
Managing change is not an easy feat. It can leave you exhausted and drained out not just physically but mentally as well. While sudden changes in the workplace can be daunting, it is important to keep your emotions in check when dealing with them.
As an employer, it is not possible for you to control the emotions of your employees. However, through your vision of the company you can regularly communicate to them that change in the company is inescapable.
Hence, you can encourage your employees to expect change and plan ahead on how to tackle it.
2. Be prepared
First step to managing change successfully is to accept the fact that change is inevitable. No matter how big or small your organization is, it will experience changes. Management will change, new policies will be implemented and fresh talent will be taken onboard.
Remember, change is the only constant in this world. Hence, it is better to be prepared instead of getting caught off guard.
3. Show flexibility
Whether your company undergoes a positive change (such as expansion) or a negative change (for instance, reduction of workforce), keep in mind that it will cause the productivity to dip since employees will initially find it difficult to accept and manage.
As an employer, instead of witnessing your employees getting paralyzed with ambiguity, give them enough time to adapt to the new environment and paradigm.
4. State the facts and be honest
The worst thing an employer can do is to package a negative change as a positive one. It is like saying, “Well, we’re firing a few employees but let’s celebrate that we’ll be cutting down our costs!”
The more you tell your employees that it will be okay, the more they will think of you as insincere. Just be honest. State the facts but also let them know that you’d be available to answer questions.
5. Understanding the change cycle
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to change management. Every person has a different pace and acceptance level. While some quickly adapt to changes, others may take months to adjust.
As an employer, try to understand your employees first before you expect to be understood by them. Encourage them to ask questions and offer support wherever you can. Remember, communication is the key.
Adopt an open door policy so that employees can communicate their concerns without any hesitation.
6. Become part of the change
Implement an approach of keenness and enthusiasm and view change as a prospect instead of hurdle. Try to get engaged in new groups and work lineups.
Instead of running away from change, become an instigator and driver of it. Consequently, you will feel positive, more empowered and less dreadful. Shrug off any negative thoughts about change and become a part of it.
7. Diminish stress and nervousness
Too much stress produced by change can make us feel exhausted and drain out all our energies. Therefore, one should concentrate on being resilient, vigorous, mentally calm and physically fit.
In order to dismiss stress and anxiety, individuals should be composed and in control to become capable of making worthy, flawless and sensible decisions.
Concentrate on workout and diet in order to stay healthy. Indulging in quick sessions of meditation or even walking can adequately clear your mind of wary thoughts.
In a nutshell, change is unavoidable and absolutely necessary for all organizations today. Hence, every individual has to get over his/her fear and be prepared to embrace it. While change can be terrifying and unsettling, but with the correct approach, viewpoint and activities, one can find prospects in every change.
As Lao Tzu said:
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”