Q: Change feels like a constant in my workplace, everytime we think we know what the plan is – something else seems to get thrown at us. How do I deal with constant change in the work environment?
A: In his book Managing Transitions by William Bridges suggests that in dealing with constant change a few ways to cope include finding a pattern, postpone extra change, and plan worst case scenarios.
Finding a pattern: When change seems constant – look for patterns to the change. It is likely that the changes are in service of a larger organizational goal, see if you can understand and find the patterns to the change to normalize them. Finding the pattern will help the change seems less constant and easier to anticipate.
Postpone Extra Change: Often times after a big change, or in the midst of constant change there are small things that could be done better, but that don’t significantly improve work or the team situation. Postpone these changes that are not urgent or important to minimize the amount of change the team needs to take on at one time.
Plan Worst Case Scenarios: When you are faced with constant change, it could help to play out worst case scenarios. Often the angst around change is the unknown. Talking about the unknown and playing out what the worst case scenario could be can help reduce the anxiety around the unknown. If you know and say what the absolute worst case is, it becomes known and diffuses anxiety. Then, think about the likelihood of each scenario that your worst case scenario will happen. Although it sounds basic, understanding what you fear and how likely it is to happen can be very freeing for teams. When you have a list of other possible outcomes that you feel many be more likely, then plan some contingencies for those scenarios. Having a contingency adds some planning to what is still somewhat unknown. What you may be surprised to find is that when you actually talk about worst case scenarios – which tend to paralyze people in times of change, the chance of worst case is usually low and the ideas for coping with those scenarios are plentiful. Taking the fear out of the unknown can go a long way to helping people in times of constant change.
What are your best ideas for coping with constant change? Leave a comment below and help us all get better.