One of the demands of today’s labour force is resiliency. You won’t find it listed in your job description or even in a job advertisement, but it is in high demand. The world is moving faster and many employers endeavor to keep pace; they are making changes more quickly, from the expansion and contraction of their workforce to the way work is being accomplished to the type of office space they inhabit (open plan anyone?). This is now the case in all sectors and not just in for-profit companies – it can be found prevalently in public sector and non-profit organizations as well.
When exploring the reasons for this there are numerous ways to look at it (technology, market, economics, demographics) but the reality is that many of us who’ve been in the workforce for some time can point to a difference from when we first began; we may not be able to articulate specifically when or why, but it has changed. For those who’ve managed to keep pace it’s been beneficial as there are those who embrace change and thrive in it. Most of us prefer things to be handed out in a measured way that allows us the time and space to adjust as needed before moving forward. That is where resiliency comes in and why it has become a key attribute in the workplace today – that measure of time is no longer consistently present in the workplace today and you may find yourself outpaced (by someone younger, older, less experienced, more experienced, etc.) because what she or he posses is a greater degree of flexibility. It is not just another person’s ability to absorb the change; it’s their ability to synthesize change and make it work that sets them apart.
Here is the good news – you can increase your flexibility and demonstrate resiliency in the face of change – this is something we all have control over. It begins with understanding that things will change (or are changing) and re-evaluating your own professional context based on what is being asked of you. This requires an open mind and a measure of optimism, which can sometimes be in short supply when you are experiencing change. There are many roads to flexibility - they all start with finding what will motivate you to undertake the change needed to move forward. Whether it is re-framing the change in a way that works for you (looking for the positive side of an office move) to ensuring you don’t become pin-point focused on an issue and missing out on wider opportunities that others are sure to grasp. It’s important to pull yourself back, acknowledge that you don’t like the change (a perfectly human response) and then figure out why. Once you understand your own concerns around change you need to explore these concerns (this is where having an open mind comes in); ask questions, test your assumptions and be ready to receive information that may not align with your beliefs about the situation and spend some time to explore that as well. There is a lot of reflection and introspection that needs to take place during change - some of it will allow you to embrace it some of it may require you to bring forward points of concern that likely need to be addressed for everyone (not just you). Pursuing this process in and of itself is a demonstration of flexibility and will add to your resiliency in the long run (it does take practice).
Perspective is a really important tool in all of this; it is a normal and natural state to look at things from our own singular perspective first. Remembering that workplace change is never undertaken specifically to target a single individual is key to giving yourself time to look around and find objectivity. If you need a demonstration of what perspective can do to your ability to see things differently follow this 30 second exercise: Look up at the ceiling, point your hand over your head to a spot above your head on the ceiling and begin moving it in a clockwise circle. Continue moving your hand clockwise as you gently lower your arm until your hand is circling below your head. What direction is your hand moving in now?
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I believe in giving back to others in many tangible ways. When I learn something new, or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website. You can always find my latest blog entries here, on Facebook or Linked In.