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05 Feb 2017

Make change easy to cope with

by Melanie Franklin

Overwhelmed

I am currently experiencing a lot of change at the moment, and I am finding it overwhelming. There are so many new ways of working, new relationships to assimilate, new roles to follow and new skills to learn that I feel incompetent.

Coping

There is so little of my work that is the same as 6 months ago that I have to keep relying on checklists to make sure I am following all the steps of a new process in order. I have scribbled notes in my handbag for all the different login codes for different systems and print outs of screen shots with notes annotated by me to help me remember how to format the information I am entering.

New Normal

My situation isn’t special. It’s the new normal. I can’t moan because a lot of my colleagues are facing the same pressures. I hear the same comments, especially on a Monday morning as we face fresh rounds of change: “if only we could stop the changes for a month so we can get back up to speed”.

All this has made me think about how I need to manage change for myself and these are my survival mechanisms:

1. Tiny steps

Take any of the changes and break them down into tiny steps, and put these steps in order so I can work out for myself what I need to do first and then what comes next. This thinking time makes me as if I have a little bit of control about all of the new things I have to do.

2. Encouragement

Use this list of tiny steps as a way to congratulate myself and remind myself if I can do one step, them I can do the next. No-one else has the time to notice I need encouragement and reassurance so I need to create this environment for myself.

3. Interdependence

Make a list of all the things that I need to do differently, draw them as circles on a page and draw lines showing how they connect to each other. Often when I do this I can see how one thing acts as an enabler for another so I can work out a logical order to all the things I need to do. Interestingly, because changes come from so many different sources this is not how they are presented to me. It’s up to me to find the links between them, in the context of how I work and what my priorities are.

4. Back to school!

Recognise that although I am a very experienced manager, lots of my work is new so I should behave as if I were on a training scheme. I should take notes, I should ask questions of those who are ahead of me in the class and I should take time out to revise – yes, it’s like being at school!

I would love to hear your ideas for coping with change. If you want to learn other coping mechanisms join me on my next Change Management Practitioner course.

Melanie Franklin
5th February 2017