We’ve been there. Many of us too often.
Our employer announces a major organizational change. Seeking more efficiencies. Slashing resources. Merging business functions. Eliminating others. Right-sizing.
Sure, you believe in continuous improvement. But your first reaction is This sucks. Big time. And it’s not just a thought.
You get this steady pinch in the pit of your stomach. Your chest and shoulders feel tight and tense. Headaches at night. It doesn’t feel good.
This is the time when many of your colleagues start sending out resumes. A fine strategy, even when you don’t wish to leave. It creates options. Removes the sense of being stuck. Helps us reclaim our sense of personal power.
But you don’t actually want to go somewhere else. Not really. There is too much you love about where you work, major changes and all. So how do you and I align ourselves around a change that we simply don’t like?
Consider the following 5 steps part of your inner homework when a major change storm makes landfall at your work shores:
1. Let it rip
This means get real about how you really feel about the change that’s happening. Don’t try to be cool about it. Don’t try to hold it all together. If you’re pissed, allow yourself to be truly pissed. If you’re disappointed because your dream of what you thought this company was has just been killed, drop into that disappointment. Feel it fully. Go there.
Yes, let it rip. Preferably in a safe place outside of work. When we constantly pretend to be more OK with something than we actually are, our emotions fester. Energy gets blocked. We exist in a state of simmering contained resentment. We don’t move forward. Emotions need to move. Staying resentful isn’t pretty.
2. Don’t make it all about you
Shift your thinking from how a change impacts YOU to WHY the organization needs the change. Major organizational changes, even when they are painful, happen for a reason. They are usually intended to create a more robust and competitive business. They may not be “good” for what you do every day at work yet they may be exactly what the business needs to move forward. Shift out of how-this-impacts-me-and-my-team thinking into this-is-why-the-business-needs-this thinking. Not easy, I understand. But when coupled with a clean execution of Step #1 – powerful and freeing.
3. Let go of attachments
Many of us like routines, even while we’re busy complaining about them. I often marvel at some of my clients who leave a firm because they don’t like the business practices where they are – only to immediately re-create the same practices in their new jobs. Such is the power of attachment to what we know, even when we don’t like the thing we know.
Don’t be one of those employees who clings to how good it was in the good old days. Your attachment to the good old days will get you nowhere. It’s an attachment to rituals, habits, processes. There will be new ones. There’s more than one way of doing most anything. When we compare a new process to an old one, our attachment to the old way invariably sets the new up to fail. Stop glorifying the old. Detach from it. It’s the only way we ever move forward with a measure of ease.
4. Take yourself a little less seriously
Our mind will whip our initial reactions to change into a frenzy if we allow it. We obsessively think the same dark thoughts, over and over. We latch onto doom-and-gloom thinking. We project ahead to a future filled with insurmountable challenges created by this change. None of these challenges are real. The future has not yet come – and we are already placing ourselves at the center of this impending doom. Victims of a change not of our making. Martyrs who have to make this odious new stuff work.
Take a walk. Do some fun things. Clear your mind. Shrug off the worry-thoughts, tell them to also take a hike. Smell some fresh air, literally and metaphorically. We are responsible for our perspective shifts. They tend to not happen by thinking harder, they happen when we think less.
5. Shift into a helping mindset
Resisting the new is exhausting. It feeds on itself. The more we resist, the more we drain mind, body, soul, spirit. The spiral descends downward at lightning speed. Choose to be a helper instead. It is invariably the most potent mental frame for showing up at work. It’s a choice that is always available to us. This choice becomes even more compelling when we’re in the midst of a major change. A desire to help, in small and big ways, gets us to the state where the change begins to feel good. That’s a very fine destination.
It’s a cliché to say it, but here I go. Change your relationship to change.Feel the feelings that kick in. Feel them quickly, fully. And then shift out of the resistance.
When a change becomes intolerable, when a workplace becomes toxic – by all means, leave. But when you choose to stay, do your inner homework. The 5 steps are your guide. Do not procrastinate when it comes to doing this homework. In the end you, and only you, are the one who pays the price.