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10th November 2016

How To Deal With Change In The Workplace

Many of us deal with change in the work place daily. In fact, for a lot of businesses the only constant is…change.

Change is perhaps the biggest and vaguest thing that we all experience! As a member of the British public we are currently dealing with a great deal of uncertainty in the wake of Brexit and the US election. It’s safe to say that there is a state of unrest about the future which has certainly infiltrated most of our business lives, and some of our personal lives!

Aside from the economic uncertainty, many of us deal with change in the work place daily. In fact, for a lot of businesses the only constant is… change.

Lots of companies invest in employee training and team building activities to help mobilise teams in times of change. At inspire me, we have a training course devoted purely to change, and team building that gets people used to being outside of their comfort zones. These measures are hugely effective.

So why is it that we seem naturally averse to things not staying the same?

Well unless we experience constant change in our lives, our brains become hard wired to settle into certain comfortable patterns. Even positive changes can cause stress for this reason. Notice how children adapt far more easily to change than adults! This is because their brains have yet to fully establish these patterns.

Our brains are also resistant to perceived loss.

According to psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, if we have invested a long period of time in a relationship that we are unhappy with, we are reluctant to end it as we automatically see it as a lost investment of our time. This of course isn’t the case! We learn and grow during relationships and leave them as different people than the ones who went in. Never the less, this logic is often ignored as our brains resist change.


So why is it that workplace training and team building days can help with change?

Well it’s because our state of mind and our mindset are instrumental to the way that we cope with change. This is often the only element of the situation that we can control.

Change is affectively an issue as it triggers a feeling of loss of control, which in turn evokes fear. It is this fear that pushes us into inertia, sadness or disengagement. So, how do we help people feel empowered and comfortable with change, even when we can’t guarantee a positive outcome? The answer… we help them change their mindset!

Change is easier if we have a clear sense of self!

If you have a strong idea of who you are, your beliefs and values etc., you will find change far easier to deal with as you are aware that it doesn’t have to alter you as a person. On the other hand, if you are under confident and tend to question yourself regularly, you will find that you are majorly fearful of change, and will find uncertainty brings out the worst in you. This is also the case if you are someone who attaches their identity to what you do, as opposed to who you are.

If this is the case maybe think about attending a confidence and mindset course to take back control!

Within the workplace it is important that we acknowledge change and give it the space it deserves. Be aware that all your people are experiencing change in ways that you will probably not be aware of. Use this understanding to give your people the benefit of the doubt if they are not hitting the mark right now. Take the time to ask them how they are, and address difficult issues rather than ignoring them.

If you are a leader, be trustworthy!

If you hold any position of seniority in the workplace be aware that your influence is probably bigger than you think. People look up to, respond to, and are loyal to trustworthy and consistent leaders. If your behavior as a leader is erratic and unpredictable, be aware that you are probably the cause of some of the change and unease! Whether you like it or not, you must help steer the ship in times of change, so try to be as clear and transparent as possible.

Sociologists have long suggested that we have a tendency as humans to gravitate to people of a similar background, social class and education to ourselves. This can make national change extremely difficult to except as it’s likely that you are surrounded by people who think in a similar way to you.

I was shocked at the outcome of the Brexit vote and woke up yesterday feeling detached from reality in a world where the United States voted in such a controversial President. I guess the point is that we can no longer stick to our own when it comes to the sharing of ideas! We must respect the views of others and listen to them even if it is uncomfortable!

We must also speak up, read, research and remain politicized!

Philippa Atkins | Inspire Me Team Member
Written by

Philippa Atkins

Relationship Manifestor & Creator of Joy

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