Organizations that do not embrace and manage change in the 21st century’s global economy cannot remain competitive. Most employees, however, are somewhat uncomfortable with change. Change brings uncertainty. The future is out of their control. Change involves a loss of the comfortable and the familiar, and it requires that an effort be made sometimes a considerable effort—to learn and adjust to a new way of doing things. That’s why you need to understand the factors that drive change, how people react to it, and how you can manage it successfully.
The Nature of Change
First and foremost, change in the workplace is inevitable. The only thing that you can ever be absolutely sure of in business is that things will change. That leaves us with only one choice—to accept change and use it to our advantage.
Change is also continual. It goes on all the time, and it will never stop. So when you are in the midst of change, don’t be tempted to think, “If we can just get through this, then everything will go back to normal and we won’t have to deal with any more change.” That’s not going to happen.
Although change is often difficult, it usually presents opportunities — but only for those who are willing to face and overcome the challenges that are presented as well. For those who manage change with ease, will ultimately prosper. In today’s business climate, being able to manage change is a basic requirement for career success.
Facing Today’s Tough Challenges
To be among the successful, among those who deal effectively with change and take advantage of the opportunities it offers, we must be prepared to face today’s demanding challenges.
- We must be prepared to change quickly to meet market demands and keep ahead of the competition.
- We must always be looking for ways to reduce costs and increase profits while improving the quality of our goods and services.
- We have to identify ways to expand our customer base while keeping the customers we already have satisfied and loyal.
- We have to maintain flexibility so that we can act quickly to capitalize on new opportunities.
- And we must continuously assess our strategies—reviewing where we have been, where we are now, and where we need to go to remain strong, competitive, and profitable.
Keeping Up with the Rapid Pace of Change
The pace of change today is so rapid that we simply cannot afford to become complacent. On the job we face potential change in many different areas.
- Foremost among them, of course, is technology, which continues to change at a sometimes dizzying pace.
- Staffing levels may also change over time depending on the state of the economy and our production needs.
- Work relationships change as the workplace becomes increasingly diverse, as people come and go, as new teams are created to meet new challenges, and as departments and work groups are expanded or consolidated to meet current and future needs.
- We must also keep up with legal requirements and restrictions, making changes in the way we do things in order to bring and keep our operation in compliance with the laws and regulations that govern our industry.
- At the same time as changes are taking place on the job, you and your employees may be experiencing significant changes in your own lives, which can add extra stress to the process of change in the workplace.
What all this means is that in order to deal successfully with change you and your employees need to be resilient.
- Resilience is often defined as “the property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed.” In terms of workplace change, this means the ability to bounce back from the temporary challenges that change presents.
- Being resilient does not mean that a person is not stressed by change. That’s as inevitable as change itself.
- Being resilient does, however, mean that a person is not paralyzed or overcome by it. Being resilient means being able to cope with change and adapt to it in a positive way so that you can take advantage of the opportunities it presents.