3 Ways to Adapt to Changes in the Workplace

Shot of two colleagues walking and talking during a coffee break at work

There are those of us who embrace change with every fiber of our being, and there are those of us who become frightened at the very thought of it. Change enables us to break monotony. Change encourages skills growth, promotes new ways of thinking and presents new opportunities for our organisations. Whether we love it or hate it, change is enviable and often times how we react is more important that the consequence or benefit from any change we face.

 As a small business owner, it is important to understand how our employees adapt to change. Different stages of change can include: denial, anger, dejection, acceptance and learning/development. We all adapt to change at different paces and through different stages. However, in order for any organisation to make improvements and grow, adequately adapting to change is a necessity.

Back in 2012, a poll by Right Management discovered that 67 percent of human resource professionals and senior executives believed change at work had a negative impact on workers’ attitudes. Michael Haid, Senior Vice Preside of Global Solutions for Right Management said, “There’s agreement that when change in the workplace is not managed well, subpar performance is likely to result.” Change can be a difficult pill for some to swallow, especially for those who are content with current workplace conditions.

Don’t allow initial negative reactions to change from your subordinates to discourage your small sized business. In fact, in 1876 when the telephone was first introduced, a Western Union internal memo noted: “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcoming to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is of no value to us.” Nearly three years later in 1879, W. H. Preece, a Post Officer engineer, testified to a House of Commons Committee that Britain had little use of the telephone because he believed, “Here we have a superabundance of messengers, errand boy and things of that kind.”

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According to data from GSMA’S real-time tracker, the number of mobile devices in the world is currently up to 7.74 billion and increasing every minute. In addition, the US Census Bureau says the world population is approximately 7.3 billion. There are currently more telephones in the world than humans, all because of a change that was made and an invention that was pursued even when some people did not jump on board at first. Whether the change in your workplace is intentional or accidental, you will more than likely receive some type of negative feedback at first. That is why it’s so important to understand ways to properly adapt to changes in the workforce. Here are five ways for your small to medium sized business to adapt to changes and receive the greatest benefit out of doing so:

  1. Maintaining a Positive Attitude

 “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard

 Employees in any organisation watch and register how their managers react to situations. When it comes to an unforeseen change, a manager is going to be the first person an employee turns to. Pinnacle, a job search an connection engine, provided insight on embracing change in the workplace that includes, “Saying ‘yes’ to change may require extra time and energy, but approaching challenges with such fearlessness and drive can make you an asset to your company organisation quickly.” Your employees will notice when you respond to unexpected change with a positive attitude, and they are more than likely going to mirror those attitudes and actions.

Portrait of smiling office worker relax having a coffee on a sunny day, her colleagues are working in the background.

Portrait of smiling office worker relax having a coffee on a sunny day, her colleagues are working in the background.

  1. Ensure A Communication Plan

According to billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, communication is the single most important skill any leader can posses. The need for open, transparent communication in the workplace is no secret. Change, expected or unexpected, can have a huge impact of your organisations’ communication. If you have a pre-set communication plan, dealing with changes will allow your employees to have an easier adjustment period. A comprehensive communication plan goes beyond an initial announcement and includes a sequence of messaging for the transformation process. According to Knoll, a home designs business, “A solid communication plan will articulate how the shifts in the work environment align with other organisational changes.”

  1. Focus on the “Bigger Picture”

Seeing the “bigger picture” when you are in the midst of a change or transition might not always seem possible or realistic. Strategies that can be helpful include:

  • Assign yourself time dedicated to thinking

If your mind is always focused on the next “to-do” in the process of organisational change, you lose sight of the bigger picture. Schedule time in your calendar to allow yourself to clear your head and refocus because doing so will improve how you adapt to change.

  • Utilize teammates

You are not in this alone. More than likely, the people you work with have all of the same fears, anxieties, questions and excitements that you do regarding change. Bouncing your ideas off of a buddy will allow you gain focus and clarity.

  • Pick specific goals

Big changes don’t happen without small steps. Change in your organisation occurs at all levels and can feel insurmountable. When you decompose the goals you have set to transition your organisation in change, the new specific goals seem a lot more doable and the overall picture will begin to make more sense.

The ability your organisation has to successfully adapt to changes in the workforce will become recognizable to those outside of your business as well. According to the Wasp Barcode Technologies 2016 State of Small Business Report, most small businesses said improving existing customer experience and retention is their top strategy for revenue growth. Some changes are inevitable, and some changes are implemented for the betterment of an organisation and their customers. Utilizing the above three ways to adapt to changes in the workforce will allow your business to make an easier transition and ultimately serve the greater need that is your customers and your revenue growth.

Brian Sutter

Brian Sutter

Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. He also writes and speaks on topics related to helping small business owners grow their business and improve operational efficiency.
Brian Sutter
Brian Sutter
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