5 Ways to Cope With Unexpected Workplace Changes

When circumstances change in your workplace, it can feel like you've had the rug pulled out from underneath you. You may especially feel this way if the changes are unexpected. Perhaps your boss left suddenly, colleagues were furloughed, or you've been given new responsibilities. These types of changes can make your work experience very different than it once was.

Changes are inevitable, however, and sometimes essential to keep the company moving in the right direction. That fact doesn't necessarily make them easier, though. If you're having trouble coping with unexpected changes in your workplace, here are five ways you can positively deal with them.

1. Understand What You're Facing

While the change may seem obvious on the surface, sometimes the underlying reasons behind it are the real source of your distress. If your product team has adapted MLOps or other new technology, for example, you may understand that it can help you work more productively. However, your actual concern may be that you don't feel confident in your ability to implement and use it to its capacity. The first step to dealing with the change is to acknowledge it and the emotions it brings. In this example, new technology is the change, giving you feelings of uncertainty and apprehension.

2. Accept What Is Beyond Your Control

The workplace change might not be what you want, but you eventually have to accept it if it has become part of your workplace landscape. This step can be both difficult and necessary to move forward. If your colleague is out on extended sick leave, for example, and you've been assigned many of her duties, you cannot change the fact that she's unable to be at work. It's a natural reaction to feel upset and want to complain, but it's not an effective strategy if the change is inevitable.

3. Control the Factors Within Your Reach

While it's important to affirm circumstances beyond your control, that doesn't always mean you should throw your hands in the air and do nothing. Ask yourself what factors are within your control. If you've taken on your colleague's job duties and find your own tasks are suffering, consider meeting with your boss and explaining the situation. Perhaps your supervisor will assign some of the functions to other coworkers and ease your load a little.

4. Find the Positive Aspects

It is possible to find positive outcomes even in the toughest of situations. In the example of your absent coworker, you may discover that as you learn her duties, you enjoy them or that they help you understand your job better. Using the technology example, perhaps you realize you adapted quickly to the new system and can train your coworkers.

5. Find Support

Are there others in your workplace who have been affected by the changes? If so, you know you're not alone. Talk to trusted colleagues about your feelings. The chances are that they are going through some of the same emotions you are, and you may be able to support each other.

Say, for example, your manager was unexpectedly assigned to a new location, and a new manager stepped in. You and your colleagues may be wondering how the new boss will affect your workplace. Will he scrutinize your duties more closely than the previous manager? Will he decide to make staffing changes? Will your hours be reduced? Simply discussing your concerns with others can help you feel better.

It may also lead to possible solutions. You and your coworkers can arrange a meeting with your new boss, for example, and receive direct answers to your most pressing questions. If you need to talk to someone outside the workplace, don't hesitate to reach out to a trusted source. Talking to a friend, family member or counselor may be the best solution, especially if your workplace changes are consequential.

The Main Takeaway

Facing unexpected workplace changes may be inevitable, but it doesn't have to be unmanageable. Allow yourself the opportunity to acknowledge your feelings and find some solutions along the journey.

Related: 4 Tips to Improve Your Workplace