“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”
The serenity prayer is relevant to your career.
It took me ¾ of my career to think about applying the above to my work situation. I thought I could control it all – where I worked, what I worked on, which projects I was involved in, who I worked with, how the work should be done. What an ego!
When things changes, without my consent, I fumed and stressed and fought the change. Eventually, I learned to embrace change and encourage my direct reports to do so as well.
Why would embracing change help your career?
Change happens. It happens every minute of every day. Without change, businesses become obsolete and die.
Knowing that things will always change typically doesn’t come until you reach an age where you have personally witnessed change in your own life. Once you acknowledge that change is inevitable, you can focus on how to use it to your benefit.
If things WILL change, then anticipating the change can put you ahead of co-workers. Accepting (cheerfully) the change will allow you to think about how it could benefit your career. Knowing that change can’t be avoided, and accepting the ones that come your way, will reduce your stress and help you keep a clear focus on your career goals.
- Aligns you with the company’s new direction
- Gives you a head start in finding ways for the company and you to benefit from the change
- Shows you are flexible and willing to move with the times
- Reduces your personal stress level
- Shows the boss you have some initiative and are willing to grow and
- Demonstrates a positive ‘can do’ attitude to upper management.
Tom Mendoza – Netflex exec in a Forbes article – How to Embrace Change said:
“Attitude is critical when it comes to embracing change. Great people are always looking for ways to change; to grow.”
What is an example of embracing change?
Joe works in the flight scheduling department as a programmer for an airline. He does well there, but another department needs programmers more that this department and Joe has less specific flight scheduling experience than the other programmers. He is selected to move to the new area.
Joe is notified of the change by the manager of the flight scheduling department who explains the need. Joe listens and nods without expressing any resentment or anger. Later that day, he approaches his boss and thanks him for the manner in which the information was conveyed and for the bosses management during Joe’s stay in the flight scheduling department. He puts his ear to the ground to scope out the new area and figure out what applications are there, who the people are, what the new boss will expect and more.
Once he is transferred to the new area, Joe keeps in touch with his old boss and co-workers, but pitches in right away in the new area to do what is needed.
What happens when you don’t embrace (or at least accept) change?
Sharon manages a small department of 4 people. She has been instrumental in defining the mission of the group, she caused it to make connections across the enterprise to further that mission and the group has had a positive impact on the organization. However, the management team has a need to cut costs and can no longer support having a manager in that spot. The team is broken up and Sharon is left to find another spot in the company. She complains loudly to anyone and everyone who will listen. She resists the change, trying to convince management that the group should stay together. Eventually, all of the officers hear of her refusal to move on and no one will accept her as a transferee into their area. Sharon loses her job.
In 4 Ways to Embrace Change in the Workplace on Pinnacle, the author notes that:
“Unwillingness to be flexible and adapt may prohibit or derail career advancement.”
If Sharon had taken the time to explore management’s reasons for the change, and if she had embraced it, she could have made a positive move inside the company into a growth area that would have propelled her career upwards. That same Pinnacle author acknowledged that:
“Saying “yes” to change may require extra time and energy, but approaching challenges with such fearlessness and drive can make you an asset to your company or organization quickly.”
Most people resist change. If you can overcome that tendency, your career can soar!
What workplace change has caused you to grow?