At RTA we recently went through a pretty big change. We had full overhauls of all our business segments including the management of engineering and our sales and marketing team. In one way or another all members of the staff were realigned. As with all change, there were times of uncertainty that were inherently uncomfortable.
If you are on the receiving end of change at work, the giver of that change holds, in one hand, candy to reward and celebrate the transition; in the other hand, an ax with which to cull the herd. That is a challenging reality to cope with.
Three months into our business transition I’d like to report that anticipation is the hardest part.
Change is inevitable, you should get comfortable with it – that’s the message for all young professionals. We are the ones in our early to mid-30s who have likely just started to achieve the success and comfort we imagined as we entered this industry. We also have young families changing our priorities. It’s at this point in life that change is probably the most daunting; we feel like we’re finally hitting a comfortable rut and the idea of a deviation from that is extremely ominous. It was for me. Yet I’m here today to share why I think we make change far worse than it has to be.
Our Emotions are Against Us
There is a study by psychologist Alex Haslam and Craig Knight that looked at how office surroundings affected productivity. Test group A&B were both given basic office tasks to perform for an hour. Group A was placed in a sterile office space; Group B was in a space with bright images and potted plants. Group B reported being happier and turned in better task performances during the test than did Group A.
Groups C&D were both placed in the nicely decorated space of Group B. Group C was allowed to redecorate before the tasks. This group performed the best in the trials and reported to be the most satisfied. Group D was allowed to redecorate like Group C but, prior to starting their tasks, the researchers came in and said the decoration was not appropriate for the study and reset the decoration to how it was originally set. This group had the worst performance and highest level of dissatisfaction.
This proves how irrational humans are. Having a tiny amount of freedom challenged completely derailed productivity and attitude, and that’s the response of people who knew they were in a short-term study! You can only imagine how much more unhappy and unproductive we can become when we feel like something bigger is in jeopardy.
We see parts of our company, and our roles, being changed and it immediately creates irrational fears and heightened emotional responses. By understanding our internal reactions, we might have a chance of controlling them before they control us. A big part of success in your professional life will be accepting and adapting to change. Don’t let the irrational fears and emotions overwhelm you. You have the power to control yourself in every situation, use it.
Change for a business is never going to be comfortable for anyone involved. Firing employees, seeing people leave who don’t buy into the change, and general uncertainty are not pleasant happenings. But these changes are a fact of life for growing businesses.
We as young professionals can chose to embrace these facts, and grow from the experience, or be eaten up by it. I believe a big part of adapting to change starts with getting out of your own head and getting to work as part of the change. I know that realization helped me tremendously.
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