What attitudes and actions can you take control of that will set you up for success in the midst of workplace change and uncertainty? Will you choose the desk or your destiny?

OK, so here you are under the proverbial desk. Everywhere around you there’s change. New owners have taken over the company and everything is getting a shake-up. A new CEO has taken up residence in the penthouse and has decided she wants to renovate. Government funding has dried up, a new lead agency is now managing the service, the business is expanding and relocating, the company has lost a major client and a whole team is out of work…

There are so many reasons why businesses and organisations change and restructure, and whether we like it or not, much of it is out of our control. It’s actually been happening for thousands of years! Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, who lived from 535BC to 475BC. He astutely observed that, “There is nothing constant except change”. How cool is that? Thanks Heraclitus!

So, if you have recently experienced, are experiencing or anticipating some restructure in your workplace the first thing you need to be aware of is your feelings of resistance, frustration and disappointment. You want your desk to stay where it is. You want your tribe back, your mates you had drinks with after work. It’s not the same anymore and it’s not fun. It’s especially not fun when friends are being retrenched and you feel survivor guilt because you are still there. It’s not fun when your favorite manager has been shifted elsewhere and you don’t get on with the new one. Plus, there are so many distractions you can’t get your work done, you’re feeling under pressure and you just want your desk back!

Avoidance is never a good strategy – you need to stay in control. Stick with the facts and deal with each one professionally and calmly (if possible). Think of a renovation where they totally gut the house and rearrange the walls, services and rooms. It always looks fantastic when they finish but the process is challenging, at times painful and requires courage and determination to see it through. Accepting that there will be pain from loss and grief in a restructure is natural and real. Anger and frustration is also very understandable, especially if you have not been part of the process and experienced some ownership throughout the journey to the new.

However, it is a journey and there are new things coming and what’s to say the new might actually be better? So how can you set yourself up for success when everything around you feels so insecure and you just want to hide?

Show flexibility

Embrace the change and go with it. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get courageous. Offer to help support your Manager or team mates who may be struggling themselves. Find inspiration in the change and use it to bring positivity into the conversation.  Have a ‘can do’ approach. Offer to mentor younger team members and show some leadership.

Speak up

Many employees, particularly women expect that their work will speak for itself, and that their accolades will be communicated to the new management team during a re-organisation. Transitions are key times to make sure the work you have done in the past (and continued commitment to the organization), are well communicated. It’s a good time to get some well-deserved attention.

Think beyond the scope

Mitchell D. Weiss, an adjunct professor of finance at the University of Hartford suggests, “The actions that will attract the right kind of attention during a re-org are doing the best job you can, thinking beyond the scope of your immediate responsibilities about ways to improve the enterprise’s overall performance, and working well with your colleagues.”

Modify your role

With restructure, there is a significant focus on process-driven affairs, and often the people factor gets overlooked. With that in mind, Weiss and his team focused on organization design during restructuring. “Engaged, attentive managers know who the collaborators are”, says Weiss. Look for ways to make yourself even more valuable to the new-look organisation.

Don’t fear the process

Rather than seeing the reorganisation as a threat, get involved in the process. If it’s already happened, look for ways you can contribute with a forward thinking approach. It may seem obvious, but it’s important to pay attention to what management has in mind for the reorganisation they’ve undertaken. Weiss advises, “Not only will you demonstrate your capabilities, you’ll also enhance your skills as a result”. Keep in mind that your role is part of a much larger whole.

Demonstrate grace under fire

Patricia M. Villasenor, executive director for the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, has successfully navigated three reorganizations in less than five years. She recommends that when navigating a reorganization, employees remain focused on previously established goals and timelines. “While panic may seem like a natural reaction, use the re-org as an opportunity to demonstrate grace under fire,” says Villasenor. “Show your superiors that you are capable of meeting and exceeding goals no matter how the hierarchy may shift.” If you approach the change strategically, then you will position yourself as a shining example of leadership and resilience.

Develop a “power mentor.”

Patricia M. Villasenor, executive director for the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, has successfully navigated three reorganizations in less than five years. She recommends that when navigating a reorganization, employees remain focused on previously established goals and timelines. “While panic may seem like a natural reaction, use the re-org as an opportunity to demonstrate grace under fire,” says Villasenor. “Show your superiors that you are capable of meeting and exceeding goals no matter how the hierarchy may shift.” If you approach the change strategically, then you will position yourself as a shining example of leadership and resilience.

Think strategic alliance for your career…“The best way to survive in this environment is to develop a relationship with a power mentor, who can serve in a ‘mentor as advocate’ role to solve problems”, says Management expert Bill Rosenthal, a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review. Developing internal networks will help you negotiate ongoing change more successfully.

Get recognized

Re-orgs present an ideal opportunity to get recognized. Those astute enough will see a re-org as an opportunity to jump in, help out and take on extra tasks rather than joining the ranks of the whiners. Do that and you are leaning in the exceptional direction.

With that great advice in mind, (thanks to theglasshammer.com), what attitudes and actions can you take control of that will set you up for success in the midst of workplace change and uncertainty? Will you choose the desk or your destiny?

“You can’t always change your situation, but you can always change your attitude”

Larry Hargraves

For more information on Career Coaching services on offer at Harvest tel: 1300 363 128 to book a time with our Career Specialist.

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