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7 Tips For Handling Change at Work

In a recent webinar, one of the attendees asked about handling change at work. They mentioned that it feels like change is constant at this point, and they saw some of their staffing team feeling demoralized because it feels they can never catch up.

We’re sure this isn’t a feeling just one firm is facing, given that the last few years have seen a never-ending news cycle of workplace changes from recession to the shift to remote work to The Great Resignation and beyond.

So how can you and your staffing team handle constant change while getting your work done AND taking care of yourself?

What Is Change at Work?

First, what constitutes a change in the workplace? How does it affect employees? Job seekers? Clients?

There are quite a few different types of organizational change, but let’s look a bit more granular.

A change can be expected, like a promotion to a new position, or something more unexpected, like the pandemic-caused shift to remote work. The change can also be smaller and more manageable, like a new technology or work process.

Ultimately, recruiting and staffing teams are dealing with change daily: New roles to fill, new candidates to talk through the process, new hiring managers to guide and advise, and more, so understanding and advocating for quality change management is worthwhile!

7 Tips For Handling Change at Work

Everyone at work is affected in some way when a change happens (whether it’s a good one, like starting a new role, or a negative one, like layoffs). Having some extra empathy during a change can help everyone, including yourself.

Beyond that empathy, here are 7 tips for handling change, especially when it feels like it’s never-ending.

Take a Step Back

Seriously – before you dive into dealing with yet another change, taking three minutes to step back, make a cup of coffee, walk around the block, or close your eyes and take a deep breath, could make all the difference in shifting your perspective.

On the whole, humans aren’t huge fans of change. The initial reaction is fear, concern, and anger for most people. So take care of yourself and your emotions first. Give yourself a minute to breathe before diving into your work.

Understand Why a Change Is Happening

When you share a change with someone, whether a colleague or a candidate, it’s essential to focus on the value of a change rather than just the change itself.

And if you’re unsure why something is changing, ask questions.

Remember when you were a kid, or if you have kids yourself, the number one question is always, “Why?” 

“Why do I have to eat my vegetables?”
“Why can’t I get that toy?”
“Why do I have to go to school?”

It’s ingrained in us to want to know the reasoning and the value we will get from it. There’s nothing wrong with that! By focusing on the value of the change, you will be able to process the project’s needs.

Be as Transparent and Human as Possible

People hate asking why and getting a vague not-answer like, “It’s in the company’s best interest” or “Studies show that this will be more effective.” While those things may be true, most people want details and reasons that they can wrap their heads around.

If you’re in charge of handling a change at work, outline what the change will look like and how it may affect everyone involved. Perhaps more importantly, remember that no matter how valuable a change might be, there will be pushback. Approach these conversations with empathy and understanding.

If you’re on the receiving end of a change, do your best to be generous with your compassion. Remember step one, take a step back and breathe if needed. If you have questions, ask them. If you have concerns, voice them.

Changes are always handled better when people are transparent about what they’re facing and need.

Provide Space To Complain or Praise

Remember that there needs to be a safe and inclusive environment at any workplace for questions and concerns.

It can also be helpful to give people the space and opportunity to complain, poke holes in the plan, and offer up some arguments against it. It may not be the most fun meeting you’ll ever have, but that feedback and communication will foster valuable trust within your team.

Trust Yourself and Uphold Your Boundaries

When something feels wrong, it might be wrong. Is a candidate too good to be true? Are you getting an off feeling from a client rescheduling check-ins? Or your team has been cut down due, and there’s more work on your plate

You are entitled to uphold your boundaries and ask for the resources you need to do your job.

Setting boundaries at work is challenging but not impossible. And the earlier you set them, the better it will turn out. Remember that you are the expert in yourself. You know when something is off and need more support than you’re getting.

Make Change Fun

Now, not all change can be fun, but if you’re doing something like implementing a new tech tool, there’s no reason to fill days with stodgy training and never-ending manuals!

Do like MeeDerby and make an event from launch day. Play Bingo with the features, and the first person to use them all gets a prize. Plan a catered lunch for everyone or send gift cards to everyone’s favorite restaurant to celebrate their hard work.

Remember That Perfection Is the Enemy of Good

The fact is that when you’re dealing with handling change at work, you won’t be able to handle it all perfectly. You may not have a detailed execution plan, or you’ll forget to do something you meant to do. Don’t beat yourself up.

Own up to mistakes if they happen, do your best to ask for help, so they don’t happen again, and permit yourself to move on confidently.

Constant change doesn’t have to mean continuous stress. Sometimes there isn’t much you can do but handle the problems as they come, but there’s no harm in taking a moment to build a system that supports the change, the people, and the goals you need to achieve.