How do you react to change? Your answer may affect your career and your life -- more than you might believe.
Ambiguity is everywhere. The workplace today is full of uncertainty, changing workflow, processes, overlapping roles, reporting structures and new information/technology systems. The rules of how to succeed in the workplace are changing. Companies are placing a high value on people who can adapt to all this change successfully.
"Resilient" managers and employees are recognized for their ability to absorb change more effectively than their less- resilient counterparts; they adapt to change positively, keeping their composure, without letting the change negatively affect their emotional, mental or physical well-being -- or of those around them.
Doing all of this with some grace, while maintaining a sense of humor and a reasonable level of patience and perspective, are hallmarks of the most successful people.
The following strategies can help you develop your flexibility and adaptability.
* Listen more to others. Spend more time listening to what others are saying and being open to alternative approaches. Listen for understanding by paraphrasing the speaker's message and repeating it back to the speaker. Keep in mind that another person's thinking may enhance your own ideas and make you appear less rigid.
* Use a flexible problem-solving approach. Get rid of the philosophy "that's the way it's always been done." Instead, adopt the philosophy, "Let's see if we can do it better." Watch out for snap reactions or quick decisions by consciously delaying a final decision. Remind yourself that there are many possible solutions to any given problem.
* Adapt to change and shifting priorities. It has been said that change is the only constant in the universe. Expect that your work environment is going to be dynamic and chaotic, not consistent and stable. View shifting priorities and other changes as new challenges or opportunities.
* Keep your composure in trying situations. Make it a habit to note your inner progression of signs that you may be losing your composure. Remember that it is easier to regain composure sooner rather than later as you become too emotionally charged.
* Display patience with others. Look carefully at the strengths and development needs of others to gain insight into their behavior. Be attentive to the qualities that make a particular person likable and valuable; then concentrate on his or her strengths. As you learn to focus on and appreciate others' strengths, you will find yourself more tolerant of their weaknesses.
* Deal constructively with failures. If you have not weathered setbacks, mistakes or rejection in your organizational life, you probably have not taken many risks or stretched yourself enough by taking on tough and difficult goals. The key to organizational success over the long run is to take calculated risks and use failures as opportunities to learn, grow and use your creativity.
* Maintain a positive outlook. Thinking positively will increase your chances of success and well-being. Avoid thinking of performance as either a total success or a total failure. It is usually somewhere in between. Work at reducing negative, judgmental self-talk by replacing it with realistic, positive self-talk. Focus more on the positive things you do. Adopt the practice of being grateful for all your blessings.
* Use humor to increase resiliency. When used appropriately, humor has the power to draw people together, lighten a challenging situation, increase job satisfaction, keep people's attention and relieve stress. Learn to laugh at yourself and take yourself less seriously. When you face an adverse situation, step back and look for a humorous angle.
The winners in this game of change will be those who are known for their adaptability, flexibility and resiliency; those seen as effective, optimistic, supportive and proactively seeking solutions. The losers will be those seen as being overwhelmed, putting up roadblocks to success, paralyzed, "stuck" and resentful.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. He can be reached at email@example.com.