The ABC’s of Surviving Change

The ABC’s of Surviving Change

The ABC’s of Surviving Change


Special to ADVANCE

One contemporary sage said it best—”The only thing constant about life today is change.”

Change today is rapid and, so often, bewildering. But with the right skills you can survive change, learn to embrace it and even learn to profit from it. Here, then, are the ABCs of surviving change—21 skills and ideas you can use to make change work for you:

Attitude. Change is everywhere. Don’t lament the passing of the good old days; they won’t be back. Instead, be willing to move ahead and make change a positive presence in your life.

Balance. Keep a sense of variety in your life. Balance the often harsh demands of a changing job or workplace with imaginative hobbies and enjoyable recreation.

Challenge. You can look at the effects of change as obstacles or as challenges. When you see change as a series of exciting challenges, you become a master and leader of change.

Data. Data and information is power. Learn how to collect, analyze and use data, and you’ll master your changing workplace.

Enthusiasm. You can’t always put a happy face on change. But remember—it’s the enthusiastic people who make change work. Stay positive!

Fear. Recognize the causes of fear during changing times—a lack of specialized knowledge, ambiguous rules and directions, trepidation over venturing into unknown territory. Face these fears and resolve to move on.

Goals. Change gives you the opportunity to set—and reach—new goals. Chart new aims for yourself, even when they’re not written down. And then seize every opportunity to reach toward them.

Habits. One of the hallmarks of change is that old traditions and habits are swept aside in favor of new ones. Look and listen for the habits, etiquette and behavior that mark your “new” working conditions—and act accordingly.

Ingenuity. A spirit of innovation and flexibility is crucial during times of change, especially when it comes to solving problems.

Jobs. Change may have a lasting effect on your job or career. Think about where you’re going a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now. Resolve to learn the new skills you need, and give yourself the work experiences that will lead to success.

Knowledge. Most changing work environments require knowledge of new quality processes, marketing techniques, technology and people. Arm yourself with as many training and educational opportunities as you can.

Listening. Listen and learn. Soak up everything that people around you say. Listen for the subtle expectations of decision makers. Read between the lines of memoranda, reports and bulletins.

Mistakes. You’ll make mistakes during times of change—lots of them. Don’t be afraid of mistakes; instead, learn from them.

Negotiation. When things change, you’ll work closely with other people, perhaps in teams or informal networks. The more negotiating skills you develop, the better you’ll be able to communicate with others and adjust to the needs of the team.

Opportunities. Change brings opportunities to ambitious people. Look for ways to boost your skills, innovate, take on new responsibilities and try out new ideas. People will recognize you for your drive.

Proactivity. When you see something that needs doing, do it! Be the first on the block to seize the opportunities change brings about.

Quality. Change is vitality concerned with quality—that never-ending commitment to improvement in processes, products and customer service. Foster quality in your everyday work, and let the people around you notice your commitment to this ideal.

Relationships. Find yourself a support person—someone who can offer guidance during the more difficult moments of change. This individual, perhaps a co-worker, supervisor, mentor or friend, will be invaluable in helping you navigate the rocky waters of change.

Stages. Most change goes through stages. It often begins with a compelling need or emergency, followed by a radical restructuring of the work environment. Then comes struggle, followed by a growing commitment among the people involved. Then more problems begin to creep in, and it’s only after these problems are attacked head-on that new achievements come about.

Trivialities. During hectic, stress-filled times, it’s easy to micromanage details or spend lots of time on trivial details. Avoid this. Focus instead on the big picture. Don’t let the important goals out of your sight.

Values. All change is, first and foremost, a change in values. Understand how the values and underlying mission of your organization is changing. Embrace these new values, practice them and spread them to others as intently as you can.

It will result in greater satisfaction with the changes around you, and more opportunities to make change work.

* About the author: Richard G. Ensman Jr. is a free-lance writer from Rochester, NY.