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Roll With It, Baby: Why Embracing Change is Essential


It’s been said that the only constant is change (thank you, Heraclitus of ancient Greece – clearly, this issue’s been around for a while). So when it comes to coping, are you an early adopter? Or more of a reluctant one?

If it’s the latter, you’re fighting a losing battle. Whether it’s in the form of new technology, restructuring or a change in leadership, chances are you’re dealing with something different on an almost daily basis. And adapting isn’t always easy. Change-averse employees can be difficult to manage, observes PEPworldwide:nz managing director Kathryn Anda: “It’s a common issue, particularly so these days. In the past, people were more vocal about their resistance. These days, it’s more of a quiet lack of compliance – and that eats away at the culture of an organisation. Managers need to confront super-resistant employees head-on or the negativity spreads like a virus.”

Yikes. Let’s leave that scary outbreak analogy aside for the moment. Consider instead the personal consequences for those of us who simply struggle a little with a change to the status quo. In a nutshell? Digging your heels in is not doing you any favours on the wellbeing front. Regardless of whether your response to upheaval is one of fight or flight, it will send stress levels soaring. And as you know, we’re big on behaviour that decreases stress. Habits that heighten anxiety? Not so much. So read on for a few pointers on how to encourage an attitude that’s less “back off” and more “bring it on”:

1. Clarify the context.

“Often what people struggle with is the ‘why’,” explains Anda. “If there is clarity around why a change is taking place, it helps people to adjust more quickly. Provide your people with a context for what’s happening and it will empower, rather than disempower, them.” Which segues nicely to our second point:

2. Communicate the approach.

“Discuss as a team how everyone can modify their behaviour to adapt to the new situation,” says Anda. “Don’t leave it to people to figure out on their own. We’ve worked with teams which, before undergoing a significant change, worked through together exactly what they would do differently, how they would behave and how they would set up their new processes. When the change actually occurred, there was minimal disruption as everyone was well-prepared.”

3. Change your mindset.

“Obviously, change is going to happen,” says Anda. “Instead of complaining, look at it as an opportunity. How can you make this work better for you? And remember: assume good intent. A lot of change within the workplace is actually undertaken with employees’ best interests at heart.”

So this week’s challenge is, once again, to examine your behaviour. Is your default position one of denial? If so, work on seeing opportunity rather than obstacles. Like any new habit, this will require a bit of practice. But for the battle-weary, learning to choose the path of least resistance – where appropriate, of course – will pay dividends in the form of decreased stress and greater happiness. Surely that’s worth the effort?