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How to Be More Open and Flexible in the Workplace?


What is a Workplace?

A workplace is a location where people work for their employer be it home office to a large office building or factory.

Change is the only thing constant in the world. I hope everybody agrees with this statement. No matter what your occupation is, change is bound to happen at your workplace.

The change can be anything like- change of team dynamics, change of boss, change in the organizational hierarchy or technological changes, these are only a few to name. Only a truly adaptable and flexible person can cope with the changes with ease. Let us look at the organizational change in detail.

Types of Changes in the Workplace:

In this dynamic environment, the organization goes through several changes; following are to name a few. Organizational changes can be categorized into mainly- structural, strategic and people.

1. Change in the mission and vision of the company:

When there is a change in the management or when a company is taken over, change in mission and vision becomes necessary. All the organization’s decision is co-related to it.  This will be a company-wide change and affects all the employees.

2. Change in organizational structure:

Post mergers and accusations, organization undergoes a change in the structure. New management can plan to change functional and divisional structure to a flat structure. This change can be huge for employees to cope up with.

3. Change of people:

The exit of your favorite manager or a colleague who became your good friend can be a huge change to overcome. Vice versa is also true if the number of new people in your department drastically change, then it can be difficult to cope up with it.

4. Change in policies and legal agreements:

A small change in the policies or legal agreements can create panic among the employees.

5. Change in processes:

This change is one of the most common that an organization faces. Very often companies come up with new strategies that change the processes followed in the organization.

6. Change in technology:

Organizations often undergo re-engineering or automation, employees panic as they feel their jobs are in jeopardy.

7. Integration:

When several changes in people, process, and structure takes place, then integrating it all together to work out well is a big challenge for the change leader.

Why People Resist Change?

1. Loss of job:

With the introduction of any change employees fear to lose their job, they feel they will no longer be needed or they may not adjust to the change introduced.

2. Not convinced with the change:

Many employees may believe that the current way of working is the best and it requires no change. It is always suggested that upper management should openly communicate about why, how, when, who and what successful outcome, the change can bring out. Be ready for any questions that employees may have regarding the new change and have an open door policy. Open and clear communication is the key to carry out change effectively.

3. Fear of the unknown:

It is common human nature to resist change, people feel comfortable in the environment that is known to them. People cling to the past, even if they know the change can bring a favorable outcome.

4. Loss of control:

Familiar situations, people and processes make work easy thereby providing control over the work environment. When change is introduced, employees feel confused and powerless, which is also a reason why employees resist to change.

5. Poor competency:

Be it a structural, strategic or staff change in the organization, everybody is required to upscale their skills and put in extra efforts, but many employees are reluctant to learn new things.

6. Too many changes at once:

Employees need time to cope up with the changes one at a time. Change must be introduced when no other major task is in operation; otherwise, people lose focus and resist change more strongly.

7. Internal employed discord:

Any change in the organization will result in rumors of predictions and negativity in general. Also, instead of opposing the change people oppose the person who introduced the change.

8. Loss of support:

People tend to make good relations with managers and colleagues while spending lots of time together at work, they know from whom they can seek help at times of trouble. Any sort of people change will shatter their support system.

How to Be More Flexible in the Workplace?

1. Accept that, change happens:

Be clear and accept the fact that change is bound to happen no matter what, change helps you to learn and grow hence one must embrace change with open arms.

2. Face your fears:

Uncertainty causes panic. So it is best to jot down your fears and think about your action plan if that thing turns into reality. This makes you think deeper about your own skills and capabilities. Clarity about yourself and your future will make you open and flexible.

3. Be aware of surroundings:

No change is sudden. If you are alert and a good observer, you may get hints of the change that you may face, few examples could be – all meetings of managers, boss acting distant, not including you into meetings. When you get some hints you can go in-depth of the situation, thus when change is introduced it won’t come as a surprise to you.

4. Recognize the stage of accepting change:

When facing change, people react in the following ways

Stage 1- Denial

At this stage, you will resist change all together without even thinking about it. This is the very first stage post the announcement of the change.

Stage 2 – Anger

At this stage you realize you can hardly do anything to stop the change, hence the feeling of anger pops up. One gets insecure and the overall situation becomes chaotic

Stage 3 – Dejection

At this stage, anger turns into disappointment. People understand that they have to let things go. As they accept the fact that change cannot be stopped the feeling of anger turns into remorse or disappointment.

Stage 4 – Acceptance

This is the stage where people start to accept the change and develop a positive outlook towards it, they gain perspective and it starts to reflect in their actions. People at this stage stop being cynical and gear up to bring in positive inputs for the organization’s growth

Stage 5 – Learning and development

At this stage, employees are totally convinced that the introduced change is good and was much needed. Here they decide to move ahead. They realize what skills they can learn and how it will benefit them in the future. One can see increased engagement and vigor in employees at this stage.

Time frame to move from one stage to other varies from person to person, but if management communicates with employees often and employees themselves are open and flexible, reaching to stage 5 becomes a piece of cake. Be assured that as time passes, you will cope up well with the change.

The sooner you reach the acceptance stage, the easier things will be for you.

5. Seek support:

We cannot hide our feeling and repress it all together, it is advised to seek support and speak to your close friends, colleagues, or family members. These people can provide you with guidance and support which can take you through tough times.

6. Communicate, Communicate, And Communicate !!

It is useless to just sit and sulk in fear. Instead, one should speak out to management and look for ways to work things out. Be open to your concerns and ask for solutions. As much as the employee is concerned and fearing change, management is also facing a challenge to get things settled. Acquire an accurate understanding of the situation.

7. Be in a company of the right people:

There are 5 types of people in organizational change

1. Pioneers:

These are the energetic set of people who are willing to embrace change with open arms and are keenly interested for the change to take place. Very often these are the people who are high performers, self-confident and has faced changed in the past. They have a positive experience from their past change situations and they are aware of how well it can help a person to grow and learn.

2. Obligators:

These people are willing to be a part of a change and act enthusiastic because they are asked to do so by their bosses, they are not happy with the change, but at the same time they are not ready to let their boss down, they continue their pretend game and sulk in fear.

3. Herd Mentality:

These people will not have any strong opinion, they are neither positive nor negative for change, they prefer to wait and watch. If they see most of the people opposing they will join that herd, and vice versa is also true for these kinds of people.

4. Freethinkers:

Change is bound to have several rumors and numerous opinions, a free thinker will not be judged by any opinion, and he waits and watches and then reaches a conclusion. His opinion stands firm and he also influences the followers with his views. Management seeks such people and takes them in confidence. He can be a valuable ally and a strong advocate.

5. Don’t care attitude:

We can often find some people in the organization who are least interested in vision and mission of the organization and neither do they care for their growth and learning, they simply work to collect their paycheck and go home. These people will not react to any change.

The organization needs people who are proactive and can put extra efforts to make things work. So the employees falling in this category are a nuisance for management, they are at a high risk to get fired.

It’s upon you, who you want to be and with whom you should spend most of your time.

8. Question yourself in case of fear:

Change your negative thoughts into something positive. Think of a time when you handled change very well, the childhood memory, a situation in your personal relationship or a problem you handled at your workplace. Challenge at a personal and professional level is equally difficult to handle.

If you aced solving your problems in personal life you are pretty much capable of solving the issue at your workplace. Introspect how can you manage the change, how will you handle the communication; evaluate how the new change can bring out best in you. A person’s true caliber can be judged in a stressful and pressured situation.

9. Stop defending the change:

Some people opt to go-slow technique they become distracted from their work or express their rage while working, such behavior will not benefit in any way but may backfire and prove you as an unprofessional. So it is strongly suggested that,  instead of defending, embrace the change with open arms. If you are not happy with the change you can openly discuss instead of dropping hints of the same.

10. Be part of the change:

Organizations require several change leaders who can fill in the void and confusion generated by the change. You can be part of the change by involving yourself in such activities. Such action can help you overcome your fear and give you chance to outshine. You can influence others by communicating the benefits of the change, can again help you to build relationships and improve your interpersonal skills

11. Be healthy and calm:

To remain focused and face challenge situations, it is suggested to do some stress-relieving activities like Yoga and meditation. These exercises release feel-good hormones and make you feel energetic. Apart from the exercises, you can have a healthy diet. Breathing exercises and even a simple walking of 20- 30 minutes can help you to freshen up your mind, thereby increasing your capability of focusing.

12. Be self-motivated:

Instead of slacking off and waiting for things to settle down, you can focus on being more valuable and upscaling your skills. Do not get distracted, and complete your tasks on time.
Organizational change is not that hard to cope up with, it is bound to happen and everyone should be open and flexible to cope up with it. With the right attitude, actions and mindset, it is an easy way to sail through.