|A few years ago, right before I left my job running Cosmopolitan, I was riding the elevator in the Hearst Magazine Tower and overheard a young woman complaining to a colleague. A photo shoot she was scheduled to work on had been moved up from next Thursday to this one, and she wasn’t happy about it.
“It’s just so annoying,” the woman said. “I was counting on this being a slow week.”
I guess she hadn’t gotten the bigger memo about life and work these days:
Things are in a near constant state of change, often big change, and there aren’t going to be many slow weeks anymore.
Though big changes at work can be scary, they can also be an ally and an opportunity if you approach them the right way. Think of all the great things that have happened to you in your career, and you’ll probably realize that many of them were preceded by change and were even the direct result of it. Rather than flinching when changes are announced, respond with a gutsy attitude that will help you put the situation on your side.
A few strategies to follow:
Instead of asking, “Why did this have to happen,” ask “What can I take control of?” Put yourself in charge as soon as possible. For instance, if you unexpectedly end up with a new boss, be open and offer to take her up to speed, or help out in any way possible, rather than retreating to the woodwork. This can greatly influence her first impression of you and thus make the change easier for you to navigate.
Be a just-in-time change agent. One of the aspects of change that can make your heart pound is how much you are suddenly going to have to know and do as a result of the shift. But in many instances, all you need to focus on right now is what needs to be addressed at the front end. Let’s say your boss has suddenly altered your job description to include running the annual offsite meeting in September. There’s so much for you to figure out and then execute. Don’t panic. Focus right now only on first steps, which might include reviewing any post mortem notes on last year’s meeting, booking a venue, and gathering names of potential speakers. Things like AV needs, badges, and the lunch menu can be put off for later.