GSG Journal

Adapting to Changes in the Workplace

Posted by Cate McDonald on Sep 29, 2016 10:33:06 AM


Change is scary. Changes to a routine that you’ve had for years is daunting. Yet as infamously quoted by Heraclitus, “change is the only constant in life”. Companies must continue to evolve their routines and processes due to both internal and external forces.  The prominent external forces driving change include remaining relevant and up to date with societal changes and expectations. In order to meet the demands of their customer, the company must be willing to make changes in order to accommodate their needs. Typically the changes made to the organization are structured to achieve desired external outcomes such as to bolster sales, distinguish themselves amongst competitors, and to establish expertise. Yet other changes made in the workplace are not just to benefit the external forces, but to benefit the internal factors such as work flow of the office, the employee’s performance, or the morale of the organization. Described below are the most common changes in the workplace that employees tend to struggle with, and tips on how to best tackle these changes.

  • A New Process or Changes to a Process

Keeping up with the demands of evolving technologies and societal expectation comes most into play here. Most companies are routinely updating their processes in all realms of the business- whether they are switching sales tactics from cold calling to email tracking, or implementing a more cost-effective supply chain method- most sectors of a business will alter their processes at some point. Successful companies recognize that this evolution is necessary in order to see what works effectively and efficiently, and what does not. Removals, additions, and updates to a process are essential to a flourishing company.

  • New Software/IT Upgrades

This change often frustrates employees. There tends to be resistance to adaptation to new software or new IT infrastructure. Users out of habit and comfort would rather continue using old systems instead of learning a brand new one to save time and effort in the short-term. Yet companies typically utilize new and improved systems in order to save time and increase efficiency in the long-run.

  • New Organizational Structure

Changes to the organization chart affect large and small sized companies alike. Due to promotions, changes in leadership style, and new strategies put in place, there are movements within an organization. Employees can be placed on a different team or department, a new leader can emerge, and managerial updates can be made. Leadership style varies from person to person, and this shift will have effects on the employees within that team, as well as on the company as a whole. Employees may be assigned different tasks, or have to alter how their projects are completed.

  • New Rules or Regulations

At the startup of any organization there will be rules and regulations put in place in order to create and maintain a desired work environment. As time passes and new employees are added to the establishment, interpersonal problems may arise that were not addressed in the original handbook or process guide. New ideas might also come about to shape the direction of the type of organization desired. In these cases, new rules and regulations may be added to the existing outline. These types of changes are normally implemented by the Human Resources Department. A very common update to the rules occurs in the dress code- either by extending the restrictions and/or consequences in place due to employees not adhering to the current code of conduct, or by loosening the restrictions for a more casual atmosphere. Other common changes are in regards to overtime policy, how to record time worked, vacation or personal time restraints or extensions, lunch period/break rules, and confidentiality rules.

Tips for Handling Changes

  • Reach out for Help

After implementing a new process or software system, the company will provide some level of training for the employees. Depending on the overhaul of the process change, the training will range in how extensive and comprehensive it is. If you have questions during or after the training, ask them! It is better to get on top of the issues at origination rather than waiting until the problem presents itself later on. The training may be outsourced, or come from within from a department, employee, or manager that has a deep understanding of it. In either scenario, use your resources and ask for guidance. 

  • Practice, Practice, Practice

Any adjustment to regular procedures takes some getting used to. Relating to a new process or system implementation, it will take practice getting used to one method over the one that you were used to doing on a regular basis. If this update is necessary to your job function and common operations, you will need to become comfortable and efficient at using it. Acclimating to a new organizational structure also takes practice. Adjusting to who to turn to for certain responsibilities, dealing with new demands and expectations, or learning how to work with a new team on projects takes time, effort, and patience.

  • Understand and Acknowledge the Purpose of the Change

Changes in the workplace are done for a reason. Think about the benefits that are projected to come from these changes, and understand and acknowledge the purpose of the implementation. Companies are most likely making these changes to diminish a weakness or capitalize on a strength internally, or capture an opportunity in the market. It is common to have resistance to change, but with perspective and reflection on why those changes are meaningful and necessary, it is easier to adapt.

  • Set a Goal and Analyze the Results

As stated above, the changes implemented should have an expected positive outcome. You can learn the company goal or set yourself a personal goal from the new change, and review the progress. Ensure after implementation that these changes are positively contributing to the intended goals in mind. Your company may want to re-evaluate if these objectives are not being met, and redirect.

               My final tip is to embrace the change and stay positive! All people react and adapt to change differently, but it is a natural part of life. Whether you expected the change to occur or not, you may as well embrace the decision. Stay positive and remember that there will be a learning curve associated with the transition, and you won’t be expected to master it from the start. Make an effort to adapt- resisting the change will only hinder your company’s progress, as well as your own. 

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Topics: personal development, development, growth, benefits, relationships, change

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