Today’s business environment requires companies to change almost constantly to remain competitive. Rapidly evolving technology and globalization force businesses to respond in order to survive. Change is more than ever on the agenda of the boards and management. Problems arise and solutions need to be found to keep up the pace. Strategic changes, structures changes, technological changes, changes, changes, changes.
Are you tired of change? Do you feel resistance when (again) new changes are presented by higher management? Working in an organization means that you have to respect structure, procedures and leadership. But that does not mean that you are a puppet on a string. You have influence on change, even from a position without power, authority, title or rank. Influence without having a position with power? Yes! Instead of looking what you can not control, look at the things you can control/ influence.
In my article ‘How to ride the wave of change’ I explained how to deal with change in general. If you have missed the article, you can read it here. In this article I show you how you can handle organizational change and how you have influence without having positional power.
I will use an example to help understand. The example is a situation that you recognize or that you can understand even without having experienced it yourself:
Higher management announced a restructuring to restore profitability, which includes cutting 300 jobs.
When change happens we experience emotions. Fear because of uncertainty. Anger because of something in the way of achieving your goal. Sadness because of the feeling of loss.
When change happens you often have no direct idea how it impacts you and your life. We give a certain meaning to the event and this leads to feeling emotions.
The example: Higher management announced a restructuring what results in 300 people losing their job (fact). This announcement leads to the thought that losing your job will leave you broke and that you are not capable of supporting your family. This thought makes you feeling sad/ angry/ fearful. It is not the actual announcement that gives the feeling, but the meaning you give the announcement.
Be aware of the meaning we give to events. It is normal to feel emotions and it is good that we have them, because they give you information, but do not let them become your new truth. Change the meaning you give the fact and you will get a new perspective.
You can choose your second thought. Most of the time you can not control your first thought, but you can choose your second thought. Question your first thought. Is it true? If not, change your thought into a thought that is real.
When a situation like the example happens you have several choices how to react. Everyone reacts different on the same situation. This is because we all give different meaning to an event. What will help you in a situation like this is to see it as it is. Not make it worse, just as it is. Why is this helpful?
Worry or think about things that have not happened yet is a waste of time and energy. See things for what they are is a true blessing in turbulent times. Why make things worse? Why worry about things that have not happened yet and may not ever happen? Choose your thoughts wisely.
If you believe that it does not matter what you say or do, it will probably be so. But it does matter what you say and do! Be honest with yourself: do you come into action or are you a complainer?
For example, do you assume that things are not possible before you tried it. Are you someone who thinks: ‘We have always done it this way?’, what means you are not open to a possible more effective or efficient way. Did you come into action 5 years ago and did it not go as planned, so why bother now?
We think and belief many things. We make many assumptions and these thoughts, beliefs and assumptions lead to conclusions. These conclusions may not be true (most probably not), but it determines how you feel and the decisions that you make. Be aware of your patterns and be at your best. You were hired for your knowledge and skills, use them.
Can you see the opportunity in change? Maybe there are even more things you can change for the better. Ask yourself: ‘What is there for me to learn in this situation?’ ‘What is there for me to discover?’.
Are you proud of yourself and your work? Do you give it your best? Relating to the example: maybe you experience fear of losing your job, because you realize that you did not perform at your best. It is time for you to change your performance, use the opportunity. Maybe you have been thinking about a career change, use this situation to follow your dream! Ask yourself the right questions and you can learn new things about yourself or for example a new skill. Learning and discovering gives you a good feeling, it is a chance to grow.
Your influence is smaller than someone in a high-ranking position in an organization, but in the area you work in you have influence. Think of the things you can influence to make things better. Write those things down, by yourself or with your team, you will see it is more than you thought initially. A lot of little things add up to big things. You have to respect your manager, but that does not mean you can not have a say in things.
Change does not happen by itself. When you have a good idea or a better idea than your manager, make a case and validate it with data. Do you not know how to make the case? Find support in the team/ company that can help you. Find a sponsor, someone who has a larger sphere of influence. It can open doors when that person buys into the case. Organizations are always open to good ideas, but you have to present it in a way that it is appealing for the decisionmakers to listen to the idea. Try it!
There is constant change and a lot of things out of your hands, but there are the things you can control. And these things make a substantial difference in how you can handle organizational change:
You have control over your own emotions. You choose how you feel.
You have control about the meaning you give things.
You have control of your beliefs.
You have control of your (second) thought.
You have power of choice. How will you allow it to impact your life?
You can push against the change, the organization, the manager. Or you can flow with (not go with the flow), be aware of your emotions, thoughts and beliefs and be the driver of your car called life. Action creates change, so if you do not like what you have come into action and change it.
Do you choose to love change? Please share your stories in the comments. I like to know how you experience change as I like to learn from you.