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How to Survive Organisational Change

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy on, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” - Socrates

Is your organisation in a state of continuous change? You are not alone. Today's climate requires organisations (and their employees) to continue to adapt and evolve. Often the reasons for change may seem mysterious and, at times, misguided. Unfortunately, these changes and the decisions driving these changes are often beyond your control. When we become overly invested and emotional, ruminating on factors out of our realm of control - we can feel helpless. Conversely, when we focus on matters within our control (e.g., our own behaviour, ongoing education, self regulation strategies, maintaining a healthy lifestyle) we feel more empowered.

Following are some tips to help you to thrive, survive and move forward during times of constant change and/or uncertainty:

1. Be mindful of what you can control and focus your energy accordingly. As such, rather than getting caught up on factors out of your control (e.g., expending energy ruminating about decisions made by upper management), focus on what you can do to ensure that you remain a valued team member.

2. Be self-aware Check in on how you are behaving at work and ask yourself

  • Am I taking this too personally?

  • Is my attitude affecting my productivity?

  • What can I control and what is out of my control?

  • How can I best focus my energy?

3. Adapt your thinking and ask ‘is this thinking helping’?

For example, excessive rumination and anticipating worst case scenario may adversely impact your emotional wellbeing, attitude and performance (resulting in the self-fulfilling prophecy of potentially jeopardising your place as a valued team member). Instead, acknowledge that change can be anxiety provoking and focus on most likely scenario rather than worst case scenario.

4. Focus on solutions rather than the problems. If you identify a problem in the change process, brainstorm potential solutions. Once identified, approach your manager and/or Human Resources with possible solutions to the problem rather than just identifying the problem at hand.

5. Don't forget to Breathe

Being able to self-regulate (e.g., if you are getting frustrated during a meeting - engage in breathing for relaxation to calm yourself or a quick mindfulness exercise to ground yourself). By doing so you will enhance your chances of remaining present and handling the situation in a calm and professional manner).

6. Identify and live by your values. Reflect on the values that are TRULY important to you. For example, if you value Respect, Kindness and Integrity ensure that you remain Respectful, Kind and keep your Integrity in check (even if others around you are not).

7. Explore your options

If you truly do not believe that the direction in which the organisation is heading aligns with your values and skills set - explore your options moving forward (e.g., have a confidential discussion with a Recruitment Consultant specialising in your Profession and/or tap into your network, consider a career change).

8. Seek Professional Support

If you feel that you are not coping/need assistance – you may be able to access support through your Employer (check if they have an Employee Assistance Program). Alternatively, seek assistance from a Health Professional (e.g., GP, Psychologist, Counsellor).

9. Keep it in Perspective

Remember, no one is on their death bed wishing that they spent more time at/thinking about work. Following are some strategies to assist you to mindfully leave work at work:

  • If you drive home, it is likely that you drive past a memorable landmark (e.g., a bridge, a church, a park). You can use this landmark to mindfully decide that this is where you will leave your work worries for the day. As you drive past – bid a quick farewell to your work worries parking them for the evening ready for collection on your way to work your next work morning.

  • Alternately, as you step off the bus/train and commence your walk home – the process of stepping off the train/bus may be your mindful strategy of where you choose to leave work concerns - awaiting collection when you step back on the following work day. By doing so, you can mindfully choose to be fully present when you get home spending quality time with your loved ones or just enjoying some well deserved stress-free rest and relaxation.

Concepts referred to and further reading:

Jones, G.R. Organisational Theory, Design and Change (5th Ed.). Sourced November 2016 from

Rotter, J. B., Lah, M. I., & Rafferty, J. E. (1992). Rotter Incomplete Sentences Blank Second Edition manual. New York: Psychological Corporation.

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