As an employee or a manager in an organization, you’ll eventually have to deal with organizational change. These changes will take form as downsizing, company mergers or acquisitions, or simple an organizational shake-up. Whatever the reason, changes in the organization invariably cause insecurity, anguish and anxiety. Despite the rush of negative emotions, business must go on. The organization is still in operation to make a product or deliver a service. Stakeholders or stockholders still expect a return on their investments. You still have a job to do!
How can you focus on your job when the insecurity of organization change is upon you? It’s not easy. If it were, there wouldn’t be a need for Leading Organizational Change workshops, but there are. Managers and non-managers will likely feel differently about changes coming down the pipe. Job security will vary by position, job function, effectiveness, work duplication, among others.
The best way to approach this time of uncertainty is to try to understand the change as thoroughly as possible. Ask your manager to talk candidly about the coming changes. Be an employee that can maintain his/her composure in the face of bad news. Your manager won’t necessarily give you the full story if you are one to lose control of your emotions when given bad news.
Stakeholders or stockholders still expect a return on their investments. You still have a job to do!
If you are given the ‘rundown’ on the coming changes, then you’ll want to get prepared for the new structure. If, for example, you are an accountant in a company about to be bought out by a larger competitor, then your position might be on the chopping block, because of redundancy. Instead of fretting and moping about possibly losing your job, you should start pointing out to upper management (or anyone who will listen) that you know the idiosyncrasies of your department’s accounting books – things that the other accounting department won’t know about. If you can position yourself as an invaluable resource, then you boost your chances of being kept on.
If you have been told that your position will be downsized, then again, the best reaction isn’t to mope and fret. Remember, your current manager will be your most recent reference for your future job. Don’t give your manager any reason to give anything but a glowing review of your performance at your current position. Offer to help your replacement get caught up to speed. Ask your manager if you can help close open projects. Encourage others around you to ‘keep their chin up’. Be positive and helpful. Your manager will certainly remember it when a new potential employer calls to verify your references. It may mean the difference in getting the next job you want.
Keep in mind that this change may be a blessing in disguise. You might find that you are a more important resource in the new structure than you were before. Your next job may pay more, be more fulfilling, or have greater upward mobility. Facing organizational change is a lot like driving in the pouring rain. Your windshield wipers are on full blast, clearing the rain just a split second so that you can see the road ahead. All you feel is chaos and uncertainty. But look in your rear view mirror. Despite the rain, the view is clear. You can easily see the cars behind you, who are undoubtedly feeling the same way you are. Although it’s raining, you can see that it’s not all that bad. Looking on the bright side, you’ll be out of the rain before the cars behind you. Stay positive, be encouraging and helpful and complete your daily responsibilities.