As a consequence, we allow it to turn us inside out, then blame it for our woes.
Avoid fabricating backstories.
There’s no getting around the inevitable, ever constant change that’s the daily bread of business:
- The CEO announces that all employees need to be more accountable for their work output and then implements a company-wide training program to launch a new accountability culture.
- A couple of popular, high-ranking managers are let go for unstated reasons and ushered out without time to pack up their things.
- Organization changes are announced and long-time gurus of the business are passed over; younger, up-and-comers are given coveted, high visibility roles.
- Your boss reconfigures your job duties unexpectedly, requiring you to develop new technical skills.
These changes produce angst. What does it mean to our careers? To our ability to keep our jobs?
Most of the time we understand little at best about the reasons that drive these changes. The less we know that more suspicious become about what’s behind it all.
In the absence of information, we fill in the blanks ourselves, creating backstories that morph into dramas we accept as reality. So we tell ourselves:
- “My department is always blamed for late reports, so this accountability training is about us. I wonder whose head they’re after. Maybe I’ll be the scapegoat.”
- “One day the CEO talks about leaders having to be more flexible and the next day those managers are gone. I could be next.”
- “If they demote the managers who are the keepers of the company’s historic knowledge, that means they can’t see much value in what I know.”
- “My boss knows that I don’t have all the skills for my new job duties. It feels like I’m being set up to fail which could get me fired or displaced.”
We think self-composed, doomsday stories will prepare us for the worst. But they only drive us into an unhealthy state of “living in fear” of the Career Grim Reaper.
Focus on facts .
The notion of “living in fear” of losing your job or workplace status is self-imposed hyperbole, a desire to create drama in your head around the unsettling aspects of change.
We all tend to fear the unknown. So the antidote is information, the factual kind.
When facing changes at work, ask yourself what you actually know. Be careful not to accept as fact what your fellow employees are telling you, since they’re prone to fabricating their own stories based on supposition and hearsay.
Focus on what you’re contributing–your work output, behavior, skills, and willingness to adapt to change:
- Listen to what the leadership wants from you and determine how you can deliver it.
- Realize that when managers are let go, their release is not about you. Stay focused on your role and performing well.
- Recognize that the repositioning of employees in an organization is how new leaders and fresh thinking are fostered. See those changes as clues to what you need to demonstrate to move up.
- Accept that the way you do your job will continually change. Instead of dreading new requirements and technology, be prepared to accept them.
- Be ahead of the curve by continually looking for ways to improve the way work is done.
Stay focused on the actual work you’re performing and the feedback you’re receiving.
You can only control your own output and behavior. Although it’s important to observe what’s going on around you, getting caught up in the intrigue will only distract you from what you’re paid to do.
It’s easy to get drawn into the paranoia, doomsday projections, and soap opera scenarios of coworkers, but that’s a trap itself.
Instead, stick to what’s real–the work in front of you. Listen to direction that comes from the leadership and do your best to ride the change train to a successful career.
Photo from Razan alhammad via Flickr