Our beloved Krups coffee maker decided it would brew its last wonderful cup of coffee this week. That might not sound like much to you. However, I assure you — to the finicky beings that are my taste buds, it is. I loved that coffeemaker. Each day it brewed the perfect cup of coffee that would sustain me through many a morning meeting or assessment report.
However, I had no choice in the matter. Done. Kaput.
So, I reluctantly charged off in search of an identical replacement. The same machine was no longer available. (What? Really? Why have you messed with success?)
Change is hard. Even the small ones.
When change unceremoniously arrives in the workplace — all sorts of havoc can ensue. A little like my coffee machine dilemma, we’re not often consulted when these changes occur. Whether you are absorbing an industry shift, anticipating a new boss, a revised performance rating system or company-wide reorganization, change is always challenging. (I’ve been there. I’ve lived through lay-offs, sudden resignations and client shake-ups. I’ve also helped teams move through these very same challenges.)
Embracing change is another story — and this is difficult for most of us. On some level, we feel a bit entitled to the status quo (see more on that here), which can create real career obstacles for us.
So, let’s try a different strategy:
The New Normal: The current state of being after some dramatic change has transpired. What replaces the expected, usual, typical state after an event occurs. The new normal encourages one to deal with current situations rather than lamenting what could have been.
On some level, we simply must construct — or wait for — that “new normal” to emerge. So, while you are waiting for that “new normal” to unfold, here are a few things to consider:
- Build resilience. Modern career paths require the ability to “bounce back” after change. This often involves looking at situations differently, which can be very difficult to do when under stress. Interestingly, recent research has shown that this is a skill we can learn.
- Embrace a “Growth Mindset”. Sometimes we feel that we can’t bridge the chasm from where we are — and where we need to go. (See Jeff Immelt’s career advice on the topic here.) So adopt the mindset that you can adapt and learn. The work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck offers us hope. (See her TED Talk here.)
- Embrace the need for the change. While uncomfortable, long careers demand that we appreciate and recognize precipitating factors. Organizations evolve. Customers shift. In some cases, the need to revise our course is inevitable.
- We can maintain our identity. Remember, the qualities you personally value and bring to the table can remain — even in the midst of change. Don’t immediately assume that revisions to your work life will entirely derail you or force you to become less of a contributor (in your own eyes).
- Try to learn more, then decide. With any change, learning more about what is about to happen can alleviate accompanying fear and anxiety. Complete a reference check on your new supervisor. Ask for the expanded explanation as to why that new procedural change is necessary. You may find a little peace.
- Ignore the “naysayers”. The last thing you need is an individual who isn’t going to give the emerging situation one iota of a chance. Be mindful of the reactions around you and inoculate yourself against the negativity that might be spreading. It’s really not wise to borrow additional trouble.
- Give it time. Once the changes occur, offer the situation time to settle. Some of the initial bumps that pop up do work themselves out. There is a period of “re-calibration” that must occur. Once that is complete, a clearer picture may surface. You may actually like a bit of what you see. If not, you can consider an alternative course.
- Look for the up-side. Change often opens the door for more change — and there could be opportunities lurking there. If you have a new supervisor, for example, they may just be the person willing to listen to the pile of ideas you’ve carefully stored.
I hope you discover your “new normal” quickly. Meanwhile, our new (and improved) Krups #KM7508 12-cup programmable coffee machine sits on our counter. It has big shoes to fill.
I’ll have to admit, today it brewed a pretty mean cup of coffee.
Is change difficult for you?
How would you describe your behavior in the face of a change? What are your coping strategies?
Author’s Note: I’ll be exploring the notion of change and resilience in upcoming posts. I hope you’ll join the conversation.
Another note: This post previously appeared at my blog The Office Blend.