5 Tips to Surviving Change at Work
There is one thing consistent about business: change. And there is one thing consistent about change: it scares people. In a challenging economy the fear of change only seems to intensify and I think a lot of people are experiencing that fear first hand these days. Managing change is important to the topic of Christian business because change represents a series of opportunities to represent Christ – whether we are leading others through change or trying to navigate it ourselves.
Change matters to our faith and our adventure as Christian business professionals because it represents a time in which Christ is stretching our faith. Change is a reminder that you’re not really in control and that you are vulnerable to the unexpected. Every time I’ve been through a season of change I’ve been humbled. I can’t imagine how terrifying change must be without faith in God and confidence in His plan for my life.
Recently, I’ve been talking to a few people who are experiencing change in the workplace. Some of them are Christians but most of them are not. In each case they are afraid of losing their job as a result of some sort of organizational change. It’s a tough spot – most of us find our career embedded in our identity and losing your job destroys your identity, pride, and ability to provide for your family. Everything (it would seem) is at risk. But what I’ve learned in each of these conversations is that this is a tremendous opportunity to either show someone Christ or to discover him yourself. So if you’re experiencing change – especially with your career – then let me recommend the following tips to survive change in the workplace.
How to Survive Change
- Be a Sponge
Change has always existed as a fear-inducing force in the marketplace, but technology has now accelerated the pace of change far beyond what we can handle. No matter who you are, chances are you’ll struggle to keep up with everything. Instead of fighting change because you don’t understand it, humble yourself and become a sponge. Expand your horizons and learn new things simply by observing, listening, and practicing things even beyond your job responsibilities. The ability to learn is one of the best anecdotes to change.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Change is humbling. You have to admit you don’t know everything. People are going to see your vulnerability, and that’s OK. Ask questions. Then ask some more. If there is something you don’t know how to do, just admit it and ask. People are very forgiving and willing to “pay it forward.” If people see your humility and dedication to learning they will admire you for it. They will reward your investment in learning. Just don’t let fear paralyze you into not asking in the first place.
- Identify Gaps in Your Environment
Always be looking for opportunities to create value at work. When someone complains, life is telling you an opportunity exists. When someone says, “I hate it when…” then you’ve been given a gift – you’ve been shown a gap in your environment. The quickest way to becoming indispensible, even when your skills or experience are seeming insufficient, is to fill these gaps in your environment. By looking beyond the scope of your job responsibilities and filling gaps, you’re creating real value that will be rewarded.
- Make Other People Look Good
This one is pretty simple but it requires some patience and humility. Produce great work and then put somebody else’s name on it. Equip others for success and you’ll immediately become indispensible to them. Focus on creating value for people instead of organizations and you’ll find a much more sustainable path to success. Based on what I’ve experienced, serving others is the single most successful thing you can do in the workplace.
- Don’t Worry About Your Job
The second you start worrying about your job is the second you become irrelevant. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that never ends well. Never make decisions that put you first – always put others ahead of your own interests. Self-serving or protective decision making is the opposite of innovation. Don’t fight things that look like they will replace you or make you irrelevant. Instead, be proactive about seeking out the things that are likely going to put yourself out of business. See: Disruptive Innovation
Surviving change is a multi-faceted task that requires faith, patience, and humility. However these are five proven methods to managing change that I have used in my career and that I have seen others utilize to go from being irrelevant to indispensible. Ask you explore these paths, ask God to reveal to you how you can trust Him to execute them and ultimately survive change in a way that reveals Christ to you and your colleagues. At the end of the day, you must trust and seek God through change because He is ultimately the source of your strength and the hope that transcends all things.
Photo Credit: Dee Dee T. (via Flickr Creative Commons)