Work lives are constantly changing, just like our personal lives. Sometimes, just when you really love it, shift happens. Things change with your work, your leaders, your boss, your colleagues, your clients, your organization, the economy, the competitor, the world. And things change with you. The terrific boss moves on, the company is acquired, you get tired of the work you’ve been doing, or the direction of the organization shifts – right before your very eyes. And we expect so much from our managers or leaders – when we ourselves must take ownership of dealing with the shifts that happen. Here are some tips to help navigate the waters of change — instead of disengaging or jumping ship.
1. Care for the success and well being of the whole organization regardless of how it is managed. Stop thinking the organization has to earn your loyalty. Commit to its purpose and its customers even if management doesn’t always appear to be focused on their commitment to you.
2. Learn how to run the business.
Become economically literate. Know the budget-cost-revenue connection of everything you touch. Figure out what customers want and how to give it to them. And do it even if the pay system is irrational and indifferent to anything that matters.
3. Mentor yourself. Find your own teachers and support. Don’t expect it from the boss or Human Resources. Stop thinking the organization is responsible for your development.
4. View your boss as a struggling human being, no more able to walk his or her talk than you are able to walk yours. Have some empathy for anyone who would have to endure the reality of having you as their direct report. Besides, most bosses spend their time focused on their customers and other stakeholders than on you. Why would they be any different than you are?
5. View meetings and conversations as an investment in relationship. Value a human relationship over an electronic one. Walk down the hall and deliver a message in person rather than through email. Agree to end one meeting this week without a list or action plan.
6. Deliver on your promises and stop focusing on the actions of others. The clarity and integrity of our actions will have an impact. Stop thinking and talking about the behavior of others. Let go of disappointment in them and how they are too little and too late. Maybe they had something more important to do than meet your requirements.
7. If change is going to happen, it will be with you.
You need to blink first. Shift your own thinking and do it for your own sake, not as a hidden bargain designed to control the action of others.
8. Finally, stop seeking hope in the eyes and words of people in power. Hope is for us to offer, not request. Whatever we seek from our leaders can ultimately only be found in the mirror. The point is to confront the passivity, isolation and complaints that flood our workplaces. Employees are powerful in creating culture and we ignore this when we act as if managers are the primary agents of change. Not to let managers or leaders off the hook, for how they use their power makes a difference. It is just that the hook has room for many players, us included.
You deserve to have meaningful work. We all do. When things change we may need to adjust our attitude and approach. There are things you can do to get more of what you want right where you are. What’s one small step that would make a difference for you?