Adapting and Thriving During Workplace Change

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At 9:50pm on 11/8/2017, I attended Adapting and Thriving During Workplace Change, presented by Brittany Hochstaetter, at the 2017 Fall Wake Technical Community College Professional Development Conference in Raleigh, NC.

Adapting and Thriving During Workplace Change

Brittany began by telling us a short tale about how things changed in her household after a move growing up. After a short introduction, she discussed how the emotions related to new initiatives can impact us. She asked us: Where were you when accessibility rolled out? Where were you when EPIC Launch happened? Change is constant, and we’ll discuss how to adapt to this change and assist others to adapt to this change.

Change is difficult for us. A study found that organizational change can have a profound impact on employees. During business or professional change, employees are 2x more likely to suffer chronic stress, 3x more likely to quit or look for a new job, and 4x more likely to have health.

Change is emotionally difficult.

We resist change because it feels better to do the same thing.


We resist change because it feels better to do the same thing.
[Silent_Lang.silent language of leaders p.69]

Moving off routine begins a state of uncertainty. We thrive on routine and predictability because it fives a sense of control. Your brain searches for past situations that seem similar to the current one in order to access the emotions attached to them. In the case of a failed change, the negative emotion is brought and transferred to the initiative- regardless of the rationale for the validity of the current change.

Many times, resistance is attached to an emotion. Emotions are relatable, but sometimes things we are told in the workplace are NOT personal, but we take them personally. WE make it personal, especially in our negative emotion.

We resist change because its emotionally difficult. We resist change because we don’t enjoy being told what to do. If things are working out, people will resist change due to the fundamental human objection of having the will of others imposed upon them.

SO, how can I adapt to change and assist others?

IF a changed doesn’t feel different, it isn’t considered a “change”.

1) Increase your emotional self-awareness.

To perform at a higher level, it is not your IQ< its your EQ which helps you to excel. Why are you having trouble with this change? If you envision the emotional response involved, you can adjust and help others. Your change journey might be short (say a 2-second OK on "please recycle your cardboard") or quite long (say a 2-year journey to admit that the death of a loved one had nothing to do with your argument).

This change curve is similar to one used in emotional grief and grief.

2)Adapt to change and Assist Others:
Determine what is causing the greatest insecurity or discomfort regarding the change

  1. Fear of job loss?
  2. fear of the unknown
  3. lack of competence
  4. lack of support
  5. poor timing
  6. lack of trust
  7. former change experience
  8. empathy to a different stakeholder
  9. lack of reward
  10. something else?

3)After you identify what you are feeling and why, remind yourself of your core strengths.

Geoffrey Cohen and David Sherman wrote in a 2014 study that people who experience change did better they stopped to journal about the qualities about themselves which they most admired and those which others most admired about them.

In an example, a teacher moved from a 2-person office to a 5-person office. What concerns might she have? How can she build a bridge from her strengths to address her concerns?

example: If she’s anxious about the noise level, she can draw on her friendly and kindly natures to put those fears aside with a kind word, and possibly begin a collaboration environment in the new office setting.

COnnect the dots on anxiety and strengths, you’ll walk back the anxiety.

4) Focus on what you DO know and CAN control?

  1. Your questions and information gathering
  2. Your current performance in your current role
  3. Your relationships
  4. Your well-being choices

What is the “WHY” of the change in question? Leaders need to discuss the WHY, and clearly communicate the why to the people who will undertake the tasks. Ask in a kind and sincere way the details about the change. Sometimes the boss can tell you the WHY and sometimes you cannot know. Sometimes you can tell as much from what they cannot say and cannot tell… from what they do tell you.

5)Adapt and change
Use a mind-body effect and remember your emotions will affect others. Facial feedback, backward motion, and emoptional contagion are all real issues in change.

In the end we will be judged not by how much we opposed the change, but how we helped the change be successful.