The Four A's of Workplace Change

With Permission from Life Advantages 2010

Change at work
Change at work evokes anxiety in most people because of the uncertainty it presents. “Major changes at work, such as new management or downsizing can result in a feeling of panic,” says Susan Starr, a human resource consultant and noted national authority on organizational change.

Understanding Change
When you have a routine, you know what to expect, and even if it’s difficult or boring, it’s consistent and reliable. You have learned how to do your work and deal with the people who work with you. But when something changes, suddenly your routine is broken and you no longer know what to expect. “It is the same with any kind of change,” says Ms. Starr. “There is a period of adjustment until you feel the consistency that builds trust and confidence. During this time, you may feel disoriented, frustrated, angry and powerless.” But, take heart, there are a few things you can do that can help you get through that period of adjustment. A proven suggestion might be to practice the following four A’s of coping with workplace change:

Since uncertainty about the future creates the most anxiety and stress during a change, try to find as much information as you can about your situation. Whom can you ask? What can you learn? What research can you do? The more you learn, the less uncertainty you’ll experience. Behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed will help you handle change in the best possible way.

You may not like the change, but if you accept the fact that it is the way it is, instead of fighting it or complaining about it, you’ll feel less frustrated. “It’s important to accept transformations with grace and a sense of looking forward to a new experience,” says Ms. Starr.

Are you being fearful or are you thinking about the possibilities for improvement change might bring? Try to focus on the positive aspects of your change. Even though minor changes can cause stress and frustration, the good news is that any change can be an opportunity for something positive to happen. What’s more, when you learn how to cope effectively with minor changes at work, you’ll develop the skills and positive outlook necessary to help you deal with a major change.

This is where you do have some control over the situation. The real control is how you prepare and respond to change. The following positive actions can help you cope.

  • Develop a network. Always keep in contact with your managers and fellow employees. Your network will be a valuable resource in times of change.
  • Learn new skills. Learn a new computer program. Take a class in communication skills. Learn to make presentations. Ongoing training will add skills to your workplace tool kit.
  • Change your surroundings. Do what you can to make your work area pleasant and comfortable.
  • Ask action questions. Whom can you talk to if a situation is getting more difficult to cope with? How can you get to know a new boss or coworker? What ideas can you present to the organization that will help with the change?

“The key to coping with change is resilience,” says Ms. Starr. “Resilience means knowing how to survive and making the best of change in spite of setbacks, barriers or limited resources.”

Help with Change at Work
Change is never easy. We all need help now and then when changes at work present challenges. No matter what kind of workplace changes you’re facing, it is natural to experience feelings of confusion, anger, and sadness. If you are having a difficult time coping with change at work, remember the HealthQuest EAP can help ease the transition. The counselors at the EAP will listen to your concerns and work with you to develop personalized strategies for dealing with changes at work.

Using the HealthQuest EAP is easy, convenient, confidential, and free. A simple phone call will get you started at 1-888-275-1205 (option 7).