Dealing with change: when you are not so thrilled with it…

I’m in a department that is going through change.  Similar to every other department I’ve ever worked with or for (even as an Undergrad!) – we are going through some change.  The specifics of our change don’t matter for this post.

This post is all about how you, as a professional, deal with the change.
I wrote a post a while back about Feeling Frustrated.  I also wrote about Being Solution Focused.
When I think about these two posts, it really helps me dial in to what I believe is a great way to deal with change.

To start with, I think there are multiple types of change.

First, systemic change.  This is a new state law, or the Chancellor/President of the institution has made a new decision/policy.headache-pain

The fact of the matter is that you will have no control over this change.  My role is to figure out what needs to be done, figure out how to share the message with those below me, and move forward.

I think this is one of those places where people turn negative quickly.  (see the feeling frustrated post again)  For me, it’s all about figuring out how to move forward.  I do spend a little bit talking with co-workers to figure out what is going on and venting- but a lot of my energy is spent on remaining positive and figuring out what is next for me.  I have worked hard in my current role to gravitate towards other professionals who are positive about situations.  Truthfully am I frustrated!? Sure! But, if I spend my time focusing on the positive, I’ll be happier in the end.

Next up would be change from right above me.  Maybe the departmental director wants to change something, or my supervisor wants a process changed, or perhaps we have a new staffing pattern.  All of these changes are something that can really give me (or anyone else) a huge headache!

Again, for me it is all about figuring out what I can control in the situation.  Sometimes, those above me ask for my input.  Sometimes I’m just a drone in the machine making things happen.  Either way, I keep my positive stance and figure out what is the right way for me to move forward.

Change below happens all the time.  This is when one of my staff does something that changes their employment status.  This could also be when a resident does something that really changes how my day is going.  I think with stuff like this, it is important for me to look at the bigger picture.  What is me getting all upset going to do to/with/for this situation.  I might still get frustrated, but taking that moment to pause and think through the whole situation and what outcome I need to happen- before moving forward- really helps me.

Now, I don’t want to pretend like I’m all daisies and roses every day.  Those who know me will know this for sure!  I do get frustrated with the best of them!  However, I’ve really taken time to think through why I have the position I have.  Why am I doing this job.  What are the things out there that would make me want to quit my job or search for a new position.  There is a list (proverbially).

I co-presented a webinar on this basic topic in spring of 2013.  We are called it “What if I don’t like my _____?”  The whole presentation is about really taking a look at your situation and deciding what you can and cannot live with.  If you are interested in viewing the webinar, feel free to click here.  The webinar was sponsored/presented by the Professional Foundations committee of GLACUHO.

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts about how you stay positive when change happens that you are not ok with.   Hope you enjoyed the webinar!

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6 responses to “Dealing with change: when you are not so thrilled with it…

  1. What a timely post. Change is all around us and sometimes can be seen as interferring with where we want to go or think we should go. I look forward to seeing the webinar and comments about how people cope.

    In times of high stress and often caused by change I go back to one of my favorite quotes by St. Francis of Assisi, “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” It gives me a concrete place to begin. And it helps me become invested in the change that is happening. Once invested then I can see the possibilities which for me is what I need. I want to be a part of the change.

  2. I agree with Laurie – change management is always a timely topic and figuring out how to adjust your own sails is critical. I wrote a post in regards to my experience in a new institutional environment undergoing significant change (and a bit of an identity crisis) on the WISA blog a couple weeks ago (http://wisakc.com/2013/01/16/no-as-and-no-gold-stars-by-renee-dowdy/). Good luck with the webinar!

  3. While I may not control the introduction of change or even what direction it’s taking, I can control how I react to it and what I do about it. I find it really helpful in these moments to recognize and leverage what I can control, even if that means simply reframing what is perhaps a negative and challenging situation into an opportunity. Easier said than done, yes, but in approaching change from a ‘what can I do’ mindset instead of a ‘there’s nothing I can do about it’ mindset frames change as possibility. In many ways, we have to let go of our egos and look outside ourselves for the larger ‘why’ to help us decide on our more personal ‘how’.

    • Hey Lisa- YES!
      This is one of the big things we’re going to talk about during our webinar on Monday. Re-framing the situation and handling your own emotional/mental reactions first. Then you figure out how to frame it to others. Thanks for reading & commenting & passing it along!

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