Coping with changes on the job
Since a person’s work is a vital part of his daily life, any factor that affects that work affects that person in a significant way. When changes affect our manner of earning our livelihood, we experience stress and discomfort in coping.
Some of us have tried to grow accustomed to and even accept the convenience of new technologies, which are designed to make the product or service we deliver better and in the long run make our work easier. But understanding how to use new “machinery” can be a big hurdle.
Even more, sometimes the technology has made certain duties obsolete, resulting in reorganization of duties and responsibilities. That is where change hits an employee the hardest. Although corporations have tried to ease transitional stages of reorganization through meetings, training sessions and printed materials, in some instances this did not prepare some employees for big changes such as mergers, acquisitions, buyouts and bankruptcies. Employees felt unprepared for the effects on them and on their families. The bottom line with any worker is still, “How does this affect me?”
The following are suggestions if you find yourself faced with a period of change in your work place.
• Develop your own individual stress management techniques that aid you in gaining a sense of personal control over your life. Assume healthy patterns of living with good dietary habits, a regular exercise program and coping skills such as learning to view things objectively.
Unhealthy habits such as overeating, use of tobacco and drugs, including alcohol, and pushing too hard detract from your ability to cope with change and embrace it as opportunity rather than threat.
• Adopt a proactive rather than a reactive response to change. Learn about technological changes that may take place on your job by reading and talking to others with more experience in using certain technology. Attend seminars and training sessions that will assist you in learning about equipment you or your coworkers will be using.
• Attempt to grasp the “big picture” of what’s going on in your job. Research has shown that most effective managers think weeks, months, even years into the future and become a part of the planning, rather than a result of it. Try to adopt an enthusiastic outlook about changes that may be occurring and communicate these feelings to those around you rather than taking the position of being a grumbler, a griper, or a negative thinker.
• If you face a layoff, attempt to not take it personally. Look at your skills and past accomplishments and think about a future goal for yourself. Talk to other people who have been involved in layoffs and have dealt with this effectively by finding a new position or even starting a new career. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself.
• If your organization is having financial difficulties, think of solutions that might achieve stability and health. Communicate those ideas to those in a position to benefit from them. Let them know you want to help – that you don’t intend to sit back and watch it flounder.
• Finally, don’t let your work become the only thing in your life. Remember that your sense of importance and happiness comes from your role as a family member, a community worker, a friend of others. Find outlets outside of work from which you can derive satisfaction, such as hobbies, further education and assistance to others. Remember that change is a part of life and can be rewarding if viewed appropriately.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright 1989