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Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 3)

In fact, change can sometimes feel downright terrible. Even if change feels frustrating, scary, or pointless, transformation can often lead to growth and opportunity for any person willing to accept it. But why would someone buy in to corporate transition amidst the chaos that comes with it?

In the first two parts of this three-part series, I discussed how science shows that to successfully navigate change, employees need to stay engaged in the workplace. The employees that report staying engaged during corporate change not only feel more positively about the change, they are also more likely to keep their jobs, or even be promoted. I covered the research from my book The Successful Struggle that suggests that to stay engaged, you should connect with a purpose and with people.

In addition to the two listed above, there is a third thing you can connect with during corporate evolution that might be the most exciting of all: Power.

You might recall David, from the previous blog post referenced above. David lost his passion for his job when the nonprofit he was employed at started going in a different direction. During a conversation with David, he revealed to me that the changes at his workplace made him realize he missed his old job in the field, working one-on-one with clients.

Although his current position doesn’t require it, David found time in his schedule to enjoy some client interaction. After several weeks of seeing the impact he was having working face-to-face with his clients, David regained his love for his job. He went back to doing the things he originally enjoyed when he started working for the organization, discovering that helping people made him feel competent, useful, and successful again.

David’s story of rediscovery should come as little surprise. After all, change can be disempowering. Prior to any alterations of their role, employees tend to know how to get their jobs done effectively and expediently. They understand the goals they are expected to accomplish, and the measurements used to judge their success in meeting them. When faced with the prospect of a major change in their job function, employees might not have the same familiarity of what is expected of them. How can they be successful if they don’t even know how to be successful in this new environment? With all this confusion, it’s no surprise that certain employees might feel powerless. However, there is a way to regain power.

The belief that you are capable – that you have the power to impact the world around you – is called “self-efficacy.” Employees with higher levels of self-efficacy have been found to navigate change much more successfully than employees with high levels of self-doubt. That’s not surprising, self-efficacy leads to a feeling of personal power.

If corporate change has you feeling powerless, it’s critical to regain your self-efficacy and subsequently, your feelings of power. To reclaim your personal power again, try these two strategies:

  • Get a Hobby. Science shows that if your power feels minimized in one aspect of your life, such as work, you can flex your power in other environments, like your home or hobbies. The power boosts you get in those environments transfers over to your work environment. So pick up a new hobby or rediscover a long-lost one, and revel in your growing power.
  • Make a Contribution. Once you’ve built up power in an area outside of work, like the weekend softball league, it’s time to transfer it back to the office. Ask yourself “how can I contribute to the current situation? How can I get involved?” Research suggests that self-efficacy and power can end up working in a loop; if you have confidence in your ability to navigate change, then you’ll likely take on a more active role in the change itself. And taking on a more active role in the change will give you more power to influence the change as it is happening.

Change doesn’t have to be disempowering. In fact, feeling powerful during change is as effective as actually having power. It’s all about how you frame your mindset. Build up your self-efficacy and remember that you have the capability to steer corporate change in your favor. In that case, maybe change will do you good!

To learn more, start from the beginning and read the first part of this blog series: Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 1).

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About the Author
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyClark.com

 

Stay Connected During Change

Staying Engaged During Corporate Change (Part 2)

Change is practically a given in today’s competitive work environment. But how is an individual employee supposed to thrive in an environment of constant uncertainty? To successfully navigate this near-constant change, research suggests that it’s critical to stay engaged.

In the first post of this 3-part series (click here if you missed it), I shared strategies from my book The Successful Struggle, that help you stay engaged and in tune with the purpose of corporate change.

In addition to connecting with the reasons behind the change, there are other things you can connect with that make corporate evolution easier to swallow. One of the most helpful? People. Connecting with colleagues helps us feel better emotionally when we’re facing change, and increases the likelihood that the outcome of the change will be successful.

In a study of employees in large-sized companies facing major changes, those who reported the highest levels of satisfaction after a change were also the most engaged employees. This makes sense on several levels. Actively engaged employees are more likely to be participating in the change or at minimum feel as if their voice is being heard. Engaged employees also reap the benefits of having relationships with colleagues they can lean on when transitioning becomes stressful or confusing.

In The Successful Struggle, I tell the story of David, whose role at work was changing because of a new strategic direction. David was off-balance because of the change, and worried he couldn’t deliver on his new goals. Because he didn’t want to be perceived as negative about the alteration to his role, he was reluctant to speak up in meetings. Withholding his thoughts in this setting became so innate to David that he pulled away from his colleagues during the work day, too.

David convinced himself that disconnecting from his colleagues was natural. He told himself that he was just putting his head down and focusing. It made sense to him that he would hunker down in his office, not emerging until he had a successful action plan completed. But pulling away from his colleagues was only making David more isolated. His ideas had been created in a vacuum, they lacked the fine-tuning they usually received when David shared his ideas with the group. As a result, David was not only miserable, but also less successful.

Employees who stay connected during change – to their peers, their managers, and even their personal social circle – navigate change in a much healthier way than those who pull away from others. Studies show that maintaining personal connections is a predictor of a well-handled change.

If you feel yourself pulling away from colleagues and friends during change, that’s a red flag. To connect with the people around you, try these three things:

  1. Speak Up – It can be intimidating to verbalize your concerns about change, because we’re often taught to wait and evaluate a situation before we speak. But if we don’t speak up and ask questions, we run the risk of not getting the information we need so that we CAN effectively evaluate a situation. What a Catch-22! But don’t let it silence you. Ask clarifying questions as needed, just try to do so in a constructive way. By asking questions with a positive slant, you are demonstrating that you are engaged as well as exhibiting a positive attitude about the change.
  2. Build a Work Support Network – If you’ve avoided having a work support network, change can be a great catalyst for creating one. Identify a mentor and at least one or two peers you can lean on for support. Be sure that your conversation topics don’t center on “venting,” which is an unhealthy dialogue style that keeps you feeling agitated and ignores problem-solving.
  3. Lean on Your Personal Support Network – You may not feel like talking about work problems outside of work. But having the support of your friends outside of work has been shown to be helpful. Even if you only spend a few minutes catching them up on the issue, you’ll feel like you have the moral support that will keep you going the rest of the work week; then you can lay those issues aside and go out and have a fun evening.

It’s natural to want to crawl into your cubicle and disconnect from the world when you’re facing the uncertainty of change, but you’ll be significantly more successful if you make it a priority to stay connected to your workplace and the people in it. When you stay engaged, ask questions, and lean on your support network, you’ll be surprised – and relieved! – to find how much easier it is to handle change.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my three-part series. And for those of you that need to catch up, you can find the first installment of my blog series here.

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About the Author
Courtney Clark speaks to organizations who want to adapt faster and achieve more by building a culture of Accelerated Resilience. She is the author of two books “The Giving Prescription,” and “The Successful Struggle,” a three-time cancer survivor, brain aneurysm survivor, keynote speaker, and founder of a nonprofit. www.CourtneyClark.com