The current recession has left workers with many questions about their jobs. But one thing is certain: change. Economic conditions likely mean your firm is undergoing a transition, whether it’s new management, emerging business priorities, a reduction in personnel or an increase in workload. How you pilot the winds of change can mean the difference between smooth sailing and rough waters.
Here are five tips:
1. Think through the “what ifs.” Change can come without notice, leaving you little time to adapt. What would happen if you got a new boss tomorrow? If you were offered a promotion? If a colleague left, and you were asked to assume additional tasks? Considering how you would handle these types of scenarios will help you prepare for them.
2. Be in the know. Are you the first or last to learn what is happening in your department, company, or profession? Ideally, you want to be near the front of the pack. To be in that position, work on strengthening your relationships with coworkers. Getting to know others throughout your organization can help you stay apprised of new developments within the company. Reading industry publications can help you determine the skills employers seek, which technologies you may need to learn and how your field is weathering the current downturn.
Also, be aware of subtle signals that change is on the horizon. Is there an uptick in office gossip? Has your boss been in more closed-door meetings? Although you don’t want to waste a lot of time speculating — or be at the center of the rumor mill — it can be helpful to be observant during uncertain times.
3. Learn from the best. Who in your organization is unflappable amid change? Invite this person for coffee or lunch to learn how he or she maintains grace under pressure.
4. Keep an open mind. Employers today seek professionals who are adaptable and open-minded. Let your boss know that you’re willing to learn new skills or take on projects that might fall outside your normal duties.
5. Ask questions. If you’re unsure of the effects a certain change will have on your department in general or your role in particular, talk about the transition with your supervisor. Discussing the issue with your manager also will allow you to ask questions and voice any concerns.
Finally, keep in mind that a strong network of support can help you manage changes at work. Trusted colleagues, friends, and family can provide you with an outlet for expressing frustration or worries. At the same time, chances are good that some of these individuals will have faced similar situations themselves and can provide advice for handling it.