We live in an age of constant whitewater. If you have ever been whitewater rafting, you have an idea of what the expression “constant whitewater” means. In rafting, whitewater describes those areas in the river or stream where the water runs fast and rough, where rafters have to hold on tight and go with the flow while looking for any place where they can put their oars in the water and try and steer the boat. Business people use the term, “constant whitewater” to describe the continuous and often turbulent changes occurring in today’s workplace.
These days, rarely a week seems to pass without word of some new change coming down the road – a new software system to learn, a new team member or supervisor to work with, a new job responsibility or assignment to take on, a new policy to implement. Since “constant whitewater” is the new reality, what steps can team members take to best deal with continuous change? Here are some strategies recommended by various change management advisers.
Stay positive – While we may not be able to control the change, we can control our response to it. When confronted with an uncomfortable change, avoid the inclination to see only its downside. Instead, focus on the potential advantages and positive outcomes that may arise from the change. Discovering the positives early in the process will help ease any anxieties you might have about upcoming changes.
Keep on keeping on – Resist the temptation to be paralyzed by the fears and uncertainties that sometimes come with change. Instead of focusing on what you can’t control, put your energy and attention into something you can control. Show your ability to roll with the punches and keep doing your best even in challenging times, and it will pay future dividends – in your organization and in your career.
Maintain you support network. Build a strong network of friends and colleagues who can help you keep going through times of change. They can provide emotional support, as well as share important lessons they have learned from dealing with change.
See the big picture. The changes in the workplace are a reflection of many of the larger social and economic changes going on in the world today. Don’t take these changes personally. Instead, remember that your personal identity is not your job description. Dealing with change at work requires flexibility and a willingness to adapt and do things that may be outside your comfort zone. Those who keep focused on the big picture of their lives find that they feel more in control of changes in the workplace.