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  • Judy Sims

Navigating Organizational Change: How to Adapt and Thrive When Things Change at Work

Woman navigating organizational change

Few people love big changes at work, especially when it affects us, our teams, and the work we do. Downsizing, leadership shuffles, restructures, or the flat-out termination of a person you work with and rely on, can leave us shaken, uncertain, and fearful.


That said, change is inevitable. It’s up to us to learn to deal with it.


Here are some dos and don’ts help you when navigating organizational change.


1. Don’t Panic


Sometimes we know the change is coming and sometimes it comes as a surprise. Either way, it can be nerve wracking. The key is to stay calm and collected. Don’t jump to conclusions about what it all means. Don’t run around with your hair on fire. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no shame in feeling defensive or reactive. Of course, you’re going to feel that way. Just remember – what you’re feeling now is what you’re feeling now. What you’re predicting may not come true. Simply absorb the information and then give yourself time to process it.


2. Do Embrace a Growth Mindset


All change, even if it’s a change you don’t want, can be a positive thing. In fact, looking back over my career, it’s the changes I didn’t want that brought the most personal growth.


A new boss can teach you new things – even if the thing you learn is how to manage a difficult boss. New responsibilities can open up a new world of learning, perspectives, and future career possibilities. A new team can create new relationships and opportunities to learn.


Adopt a growth mindset that sees change as a chance to learn, evolve, and acquire new skills. Embracing this outlook enables you to stay agile and open-minded, fostering resilience in the face of uncertainty.


3. Don’t Gossip


Chances are, if you’re feeling shaken, so is everyone else.


Stay informed by actively seeking updates from leadership and colleagues. Engage in discussions, ask questions, and offer insights.


But don’t engage in gossip or venting. Though they good in the moment, these kinds of behaviors are actually quite dangerous, not just to your career, but also to your mental health. Venting is what’s known in the world of neuroscience as a negative emotional attractor. Negative attractors feel good because they give us a boost of energy. The problem is, rather than being a positive, rejuvenating energy, it’s a stressful energy. And that means it activates our sympathetic nervous system – the biological mechanism that’s associated with our fight or flight response.  When that happens, we become cognitively, perceptually, and emotionally impaired.


Definitely not the energy you need at this critical time in your career.


Suck it up. Observe. Support those around you. But don’t run off to gossipland.


4. Do Be Flexible


Now is not the time to indulge an attachment to certainty.


Remaining flexible is vital during transitions. Be prepared to adapt to new processes, methodologies, or roles. Agility in adapting to change not only showcases your versatility but also contributes to the smooth execution of organizational shifts.


The best way to thrive in change is to face each day without judgement, without expectation, and without the need to know what’s going to happen tomorrow.


Let go of the past. Do your job well. And see what happens.


5. Don’t Do it Alone


Don’t navigate change alone. Seek support from peers, mentors, or HR personnel. Collaborate with team members to brainstorm solutions, share experiences, and collectively overcome challenges. A supportive network can alleviate stress and provide valuable insights.


And while you’re at it, don’t forget your team members. Communicate often with your employees about what the change means for them, and how you intend to support them through it. Effective communication fosters transparency, reducing anxiety and ambiguity.


The Point


Navigating organizational change doesn't have to be stressful. Incorporating these strategies into your approach can position you as an invaluable asset to your organization, setting you up for future personal success.


So, stay positive, my friend.


After all, this could be the making of you.

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