Change has become the essence of development for organizations today. It is highly important for organizations to adapt to changes and keep themselves updated with the changes in the environment to survive, exist or grow in business. Many people look forward to changes in their workplace to develop their skills or perform better. When things change, they feel shocked, terrified and uncomfortable. Changes are noticed to happen suddenly sometimes and people are not ready to take changes in a positive manner and see the opportunities arising as a result of such changes. They receive change negatively and perceive it with a feeling a fear, shock and resistance. Such people perceive change in almost the same way even when the change is a planned one.
A majority of people get attached to their routines and some ways, actions or work procedures become their habits. Changes at work move them out of their comfort zones which results in disturbance in their professional and personal lives. Success of undergoing a change highly depends on the perception of change in the mind of a person who undergoes the change. Organizations need to give high importance to how a change is being presented to its workforce and explain the short term and long term benefits brought about as a result of the change and how it simplifies their work. Organizations can also design an estimated work plan to implement the change and how the change will affect individual and organizational success which will motivate employees and compel them to thrive into action. Dr. Tamar Chansky, author of “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety”, mentions in her book that changes at work are among the top life stressors that one can experience. Routine and predictability are factors which give a sense of control to a person to perform a job function. Big or uninformed changes give a sense of uncertainty in the minds of people which becomes a major cause of fear. Not knowing what will happen next creates fear which results in lack of assertiveness and confidence due to lack of experience. This can diminish memory, undermine performance and disengage people from the present.
Some common examples of changes at workplace can be changes to our immediate bosses, organizations, work locations, teams, work priorities, roles and responsibilities or changes to the ways in which we work or do business.
Below mentioned are some of the ways to combat and overcome the fear of change at work:
- Acknowledging the change: The most important thing to do when change is happening in the workplace is to acknowledge it. Recognizing and accepting change is one of the first steps towards managing it.
- Facing the fear: When you fear change take some time out for yourself. Writing down these fears in an objective form can stop you dwelling on them. Go through each fear and write down what you would do if that fear came to pass. Knowing you have a back up plan can really help to defuse the emotional anxiety.
- Stop the fearful thoughts and replace them with something positive: Fear can come from creating negative thoughts and scenarios in your head about what the future holds. It depends on how one describes the change to himself, what he perceives to be the negative aspects of the change and the impact it has on his life. One can recall the way he dealt with situations where one was successful by asking oneself how the change was handled before, What actions were taken that really worked, how the change was communicated and how one manage his mental health during that time.
- Be flexible and embracing of change: Instead of hiding from fears and creating defenses to keep it away one should be open and flexible to taking on new challenges and tasks. People will look forward to work with a person who is flexible and there is a greater chance of being successful.
- Be a part of the change or be the change: Adopting an attitude of anticipation and excitement will eliminate the fear of undergoing a change. Welcoming change as an opportunity. Influencing and driving change will make a person feel empowered and less fearful.