Change is happening. Is your team ready?

Change is happening. Is your team ready?

Fear and dread may be your first reactions when a mega-morphosis—or even a mini-morphosis—is announced at work. Life would be easier if you could make the new blend seamlessly with the old. To ease your own stress, impress your boss, and keep clients happy, follow these tips for adapting to transitions.
Jun 01, 2009

Every day brings something new, whether it be an unexpected forecast, a traffic jam, or the announcement that your practice is going paperless. Some of these changes slip by virtually unnoticed, while others shake your world to the core. At work, even small operational differences can bring about major confusion and even anger and resentment. The key to minimizing this negative reaction is to overhaul the way you think about the unfamiliar.

In a business and career sense, change is good. Actually, it's necessary for success. Imagine working at a practice that never buys new equipment, tries new surgical techniques, or prescribes new medications. This is tough to do because such a practice doesn't exist—or, at least, it wouldn't for long. Businesses that don't embrace change get left behind.

The same is true for employees. If you resist every innovation your practice tries to implement, your colleagues will view you as a naysayer. On the other hand, being able to morph from your practice's typewriter expert to its computer connoisseur, for example, makes you a more marketable, more valuable team member. This flexibility will allow you to find—and keep—better jobs and earn higher wages doing them. Adaptability also benefits your emotional well-being. When you're equipped to cope with deviations from the plan, stress lifts from your life. You realize that a lot of systemic changes at work just aren't worth fighting, and you'll be happier as a result.

That said, even the most malleable person will still feel a little uncomfortable when faced with the unknown. In fact, it's human nature for people's feelings to progress through four stages of loss. (For an outline of this emotional process, click here.) But there are steps you can take to make the transitions smoother. Here are eight ways to shift your thinking so instead of dreading change, you delight in it.

Take more risks

Use your imagination to dream up new projects or new ways to complete old tasks. When given the opportunity, extend yourself and see how far you can reach. In short, put some adventure into your work. Here's a place to start: Go through your duties step by step and look for tasks that could either be eliminated or enhanced to improve the client experience. Then take your list to your manager.

Make more mistakes

Don't be careless, but fail often. After all, success is usually a byproduct of screw ups. Overcome your fear of failure by redefining what it means. Start by outlining the qualities someone would need to thrive in your job. Don't think about what will keep you out of trouble, but rather what would help you grow. Then measure yourself against the criteria you set.

No clue what to include? Enlist your manager's help. This also allows you to determine the "failures" your practice culture tolerates and encourages. Start the conversation with, "I'm confused about what indicates I'm doing well. What performance goals should I be measuring myself against?"

Don't let strengths become weaknesses

It's important to build areas of expertise, but be sure to keep learning. And study topics outside of what you already know. This will help you develop in new directions, increasing your chances to improve yourself and your practice.

Put your faith in opportunities

The way you think influences the way you frame the situation, which influences your ability to cope. So think positively. A Pollyanna viewpoint isn't necessary; a realistic one is. Chances to improve usually come disguised as problems, so look for them when you hear "bad" news. What's more, opportunities seem to appear when you believe in them.