Dealing with Different

Contribute to, Don’t Resist, Change

By Margaret Vaughan

It is said that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. I disagree. I think that there are three: death, taxes and change. The first two are unpleasant. The third – change – need not be.

No one likes change. People are comfortable with the rhythm of their lives: with things they know, with how they do things, with the people they know, with the places they go, and where they work. Anything that disrupts that is uncomfortable.

The problem is that change is inevitable; it happens on a daily basis. You can fight against it all you want, but change will come. It is how you react to it that makes the difference in whether the change is a positive for you or a negative.

When companies merge or are sold, there are going to be significant changes in leadership, staffing, departmental structure, procedures, core values, culture and benefits. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on – whether the owner or the owned – things are going to change for you. You might be demoted, reassigned or even released altogether depending on the degree of your redundancy. Work procedures will be different, key performance indicators will be measured in unforeseen ways, performance evaluations will not conform to the way you have historically been performing.

The phrase I’ve heard most often when a procedure or routine is changed is, “but that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Well, horses were used as transportation for thousands of years but that changed with the advent of the automobile. And communications were always done by written or verbal messaging, but that changed with the invention of the telephone and then the computer.

Embracing change is a challenge. It’s hard to embrace what you don’t know and what, in the short term, may not appear to be to your advantage. However, if you don’t embrace it, the change will occur anyway and you will have had no opportunity to add your input. You will be seen as a resistor not a contributor. And being a “team player” is a desired skill set.

But what if you are suddenly let go from your job? Being released without warning is a serious gut-punch. And it’s especially frightening if you have a family, don’t have an emergency fund or you’re being let go during an economic downturn where your future job prospects are lower. It’s hard to accept or embrace such a change. And, yet, where the door has closed, a window will open. That’s when you reassess your options and really think about what it is you want to do. We spend so much of our time blinkered at our jobs, focused on the now. We rarely look at the “what if?” Change has a way of messing up carefully laid plans. As they say, “life is what happens when you are making other plans.”

If a change happens in your life, no matter how dreadful it may be, embrace it. By taking off your blinkers and looking around, you may be surprised and find something wonderful.  

Margaret J. Vaughan has more than 30 years’ experience in all facets of supply chain management, serving most recently as logistics manager for Wood PLC where she worked for 12 years.

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