How to Turn Change Management Into Personal Development

Business.com / Employees / Last Modified: August 17, 2017
Photo credit: Photon photo/Shutterstock

In times of corporate change, the only thing you can control is you. Here's how to make it count.

The best way to handle change at work is to change yourself. Change does not mean that you need to wear different clothes or find a new way to convert your workplace. You change yourself by putting the focus on how you can impact your life and work in the present. This type of change focuses on personal development that helps you redefine yourself and the way you connect to work. The goal for you during change is to let go of your reactions and instead put your energy toward the things you can control. The focus becomes developing yourself in the face of challenges.

One important element you control includes your behavior. Behavior encompasses management of thoughts, words and actions. The way you think about work can take energy, especially in a place of change. Instead of thinking in terms of wrong or bad, try to become objective in the way you handle the changes at work. Don't focus on what is wrong about the change; focus on how you can present yourself in this new environment. Rethink the idea that change is a bad way to do the work. You can address your discomfort by looking for new ways to think, speak and act about the change. Challenge yourself to think, talk and act in a way that supports who you want to be as a person.

The goal of behaviors in personal development is not to give up your identity or beliefs during the change but to find beneficial ways to integrate yourself into the new environment. The more you practice this behavior shift, the better chance you have of finding peace within the new work environment. It is valid not to like the way something has changed. Your personal development comes from moving yourself from disappointment or frustration to focusing on behaviors that support you in any situation within the new reality.

Choose a few words to describe who you want to be as a person, such as helpful, efficient or friendly. These words help you focus on yourself in the change. Use them as motivation words to maintain your behavior in change. When you are challenged by changes, keep these chosen behaviors aligned with your thoughts, words and actions. The disconnection between thoughts, words and actions causes fractures in your authenticity.

Even with challenges in change, you can keep a personal focus that allows you to maintain a constant level of professionalism. For example, if the company moves from customer service practices that accept ratings of 8 out of 10 instead of 9 out of 10 on customer satisfaction because the change doesn't impact the bottom line, you can find ways to maintain your sense of customer service within the context of the company. A friendly tone and helpful attitude can go a long way toward customer satisfaction despite the bottom line. Managing behavior in this way becomes a useful skill to achievement, especially during times of change.

Other new skills can also help give you the edge in the changing landscape of business. GMAT surveyed more than 11,000 business school alumni who provided insight into the skills they consider essential for work. The top three skills were communication, problem-solving and critical thinking. Refining these skills, along with technical business skills, offers you focus when the work environment changes.

Take some time to evaluate what skills you currently have and find ways to integrate these established skills into the new way of doing business. You can also determine if there are other new skills that you could obtain to build on your current collection. Use this time of change to grow your skills and acclimate to an ever-changing industry. Personal development of your skills and abilities helps you use change as an opportunity to enhance your business portfolio and keep the focus on how you connect to the organization.

You can also take time to learn new information and trends. Vanessa King, a psychology expert at Action for Happiness, identified learning as a core need for psychological well-being. Learning can help you build confidence, become more cohesive in the way you approach situations and connect with others. King suggests that human beings have an inherent desire to learn and progress when looking for mastery. Learning can also fuel creativity, finding connections between seemingly unrelated situations or relationships. Learning becomes a practice that helps with personal development. The more you learn about any topic, the better able you are to expand the way you do business. For example, if you are concerned about corporate culture in an organization, reading about culture can help you find new ways to support corporate culture. Learning more information makes you better prepared to deal with events as they change.

There is a pattern for what we perceive as normal and comfortable. When that pattern disappears, your brain feels lost and responds by trying to recover that feeling of safety. The rules and relationships that helped define your work and the company for many years have now disappeared and are replaced with the different way of looking at the same business. Some people respond by attempting a hostile takeover to get rid of the individuals who are trying to make the change. Another reaction might be to silently curse the change and create a negative atmosphere both personally and organizationally. Moving to another job is also an alternative. When you focus on professional development during times of change, you build resiliency within yourself and prepare for any changes that come your way.

Mary Lynn Pulley, in her book "Losing Your Job – Reclaiming Your Soul: Stories of Resilience, Renewal, and Hope," discusses the relationship between change and resiliency. Resiliency allows you to recover from change. Pulley submits that resilient people demonstrate flexibility, endurance, optimism and openness to learning. Without resiliency, employees can experience burnout, fatigue, defensiveness or cynicism.

When you remain steady with your behavior and show individuals around you that calm ensues, even in the change, you demonstrate the strength of commitment to personal development in the face of challenges. Learning skills and advancing knowledge helps you explore new ways of working and find interconnections that could help build success for yourself and other people in the workplace. The constant in any change can be you.

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