We're all walking on quick sand

"We're so stupid if we think we can control,
 All the dark matter in this black hole. 
It's going to pull us under if we don't let go, 
We're all walking on quick sand".

This is a line from a Delta Goodroom song "God Laughs". It's a song she wrote about her parents marriage split but I think it applies to life in general, and certainly life in big organisations.

So what made me think of this song? It's fair to say there has been some change going on at work. Most of this change over the past 18 months I have been involved with, with our leadership team. Being in control of the change, while difficult, is often easier than being part of the group of employees who have had the change inflicted on them. I'm sure you agree.

The most recent changes has got many of the team I work in, unsettled and unsure. There is a feeling of things being temporary and ambiguous . What's going to happen next? If that can happen to that person, it could happen to me too! Some of the changes have shown the way in the organisation and highlighted opportunity. Other changes have been perceived very negatively. This is normal.

I have been surprised by my own reactions and those of the leadership team. I somehow expected that experienced and well seasoned leaders would be better equipped to deal with change. But people are people no matter the age or experience. We all feel unsettled by change, by things happening which we didn't expect and things we don't want to happen. We wish things to be different or to stay the same.

I have spoken before about how often I come across people that want certainty and stability in their lives, their work and careers. Many want to know that when they go to work each day, they know what their job is, they know where they get to sit and they don't need to learn anything new. I find this somewhat unrealistic and hard and.... well, a bit sad.

But what do you do when you are in the middle of unsettling and upsetting change? What do you do when everything seems temporary and nothing seems certain?

  1. There is always something not changing (I hope). For example, if work is upsidedown, how is home? Is it stable at the moment? What about your family and friends? Are they still there? It's important to maintain connections that remain stable in times of change. Seek these people out. They should help you keep things in perspective.
  2. Even at work, if things are seeming a little ambiguous, there will be other things that are not. You still need to deliver on your plans, deliver to your goals, sell what needs to be sold, deliver on the strategy, even if these things are short term. Identifying the things that remain the same and focusing on these are really important. Particularly if you are a leader.
  3. EXERCISE! I bang on this a bit. I'm not a fitness freak I just think that exercise makes a massive difference to how we feel about our world. Wrote a post here about keeping your mind fit. If there is ever a time when you need to keep your mind fit it's during a time of change. When I found out about a recent change that effected me I walked every day for a week! 
  4.  Reflect on where you want your career to be. Has the change derailed this? If it has are there other things you can learn that you didn't expect? Not long after I moved to Sydney I completed a leadership program. It came at just the right time with a coach as part of the program. This coach had some great little techniques for dealing with stuff. One that relates to change which I use on myself and talk to others about is - even if you are not where you want to be and may be struggling a bit, make a deal with yourself about how much time you will stay in the same situation. Work out the things you are going to learn and pick a date to review. When you get to that point in time, things will have either improved or you can decide to do something else. At least you gave it a chance.
  5. Get networking. This is helpful in creating connections that may help with your career, and helpful to understand that most organisations are going through uncertainty and change. Many industry organisations hold professional networking events that help people connect. Is it time you built up your network?