Friday 28 June 2024

Adapting to Change at Workplace


Put your adaptability skills to work

New challenges arise that change the status quo in every work environment, making adaptability a critical skill that will aid your career success in today's workplace environment. Thoroughly understanding adaptability and how to demonstrate it at work ensures you can pivot your strategies and remain successful – an important characteristic of valued employees. Whether the change you encounter is systematic, organizational, or industry-wide, being flexible, positive, and willing to work towards the best solutions, regardless of the circumstances, will remain vital to career success in the years ahead. 

How to handle change at work

Handling change at work effectively involves a combination of adaptability, communication, and proactive strategies. Here are some steps to help you manage change at work:

1. Challenge your interpretation of the facts

During any time of change, you will likely face unfamiliar challenges which may make you apprehensive. When these feelings arise, challenge your interpretation of events by asking yourself the following questions: 


  • Is your interpretation of the change you are facing rational, objective, and based purely on the facts?

  • Can you challenge your interpretation with an opposing argument?

  • If so, what’s the alternative perspective of this situation?

The way you interpret information relating to the change you are facing and the meaning you give them is what will determine your approach to change, the course you take and ultimately how successful you will be in adopting the change. By objectively examining a challenging situation and doing your best to remove your negative, and potentially unfounded assumptions, you’ll have a more positive emotional reaction and subsequently will be able to determine the practical steps you need to take to arrive at a productive outcome.


2. Ask questions 

Much of the anxiety people fear about change stems from a fear of the unknown and the only way to alleviate the ambiguity is to fill in the gaps. Don’t wait for people to provide it to you, ask. Your manager may not know that you want or need the information. The sooner you have all the facts, the sooner you will be able to process them and interpret what they mean to you.


3. Recognise and rationalize the voice of caution

When confronted with an unfamiliar situation, there’s often a voice of caution in our heads telling us to be careful and go slow. By recognizing that this is what is happening and reminding ourselves that all will be okay, we can stay open-minded and prepare to take on the change in careful, measured steps.


4. Reframe change as an opportunity

By exploring what specifically about the change is making you feel anxious, you can reframe the process into one of opportunity. For example, are you worried about a lack of support or an increased workload?


Now consider whether your interpretation of these aspects could be reframed in a positive light. For example, additional responsibilities and the opportunity to manage your workload with increased independence could help to advance your career.


Asking yourself the following questions may help:


  • Forget the way the change was worded when it was communicated to you. Instead, think about how you would word this challenge or change if you were to explain it to others. Saying it out loud might help you to detect what about the change is troubling you.

  • What are the real implications and opportunities for you?

  • In the past, when you handled change well, what did you do, and what actions in particular worked?

  • The aim here is to try to keep things in perspective and aligned with what matters to you and your career. 

5. Break down the information

Take some time to work out exactly what you will have to do differently day-to-day as a result of this change, breaking it down into smaller manageable portions. Transitioning to a new way of working, for example, may seem daunting and unfamiliar, especially in a tight timeframe, but segmenting it into individual, practical steps like the following will make it seem less intimidating: 


  • Consider your key tasks and identify those that will change and which will stay the same.

  • Highlight any new responsibilities you will have, what they entail and when key actions will be required.

  • Find out what the new priorities will be, what the expectations will be for you individually going forward and how this will be monitored.

  • Find out how you will need to collaborate with your team going forward.

  • Think about how you will need to use systems differently or what new software you will need to become familiar with.

  • Identify any areas where you feel you may need more knowledge or skills to carry out your role successfully.

  • Make sure you’re checking in regularly with your colleagues and manager to run through any decisions or processes you’re unsure of.

6. Be patient with yourself, persevere and ask for help if needed

It takes time and perseverance to adapt to change and learn how to demonstrate adaptability at work, so don’t expect things to transform overnight. If you’re struggling to adapt to a particular change you are facing, then ask to be directed to any relevant employee assistance programs or training resources that could help you. Talk to your manager about signing up to Hays Learning, which provides thousands of free online training courses that could help.


7. Broaden your comfort zone

Your comfort zone is the set of behaviors and actions that together create the drumbeat of your day-to-day life, reducing risk and stress and providing us with a sense of security. It is this comfort zone that is often threatened by change, so the challenge is to identify how to quickly establish a new routine and integrate it into your comfort zone as soon as possible. 


Think about how to map out your day or week now as a result of the change. What are the key regular activities you will need to do? How long will they take? When will you do them? 


8. Celebrate daily wins

With time, changes that might have seemed significant will start to gradually integrate into your day-to-day life and feel much more natural.  


During times of change, it is straightforward to focus on what you couldn't do or what went wrong, rather than what went well. Focusing on your wins every day, no matter how small will help you avoid negative emotions to understand how you are moving forward and working on embracing positive change. 


9. Remember it’s a lifelong skill

It’s important to remember that change can occur at any time and you will likely experience many periods of change throughout your life. Embracing change and demonstrating adaptability successfully is an important skill that will serve you well throughout your life.

Written by, Siddhi Shinde, Project Management Officer at

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