In the recent People Profession Survey 2022, CIPD identified the priority for those building HR capabilities is the improvement of change management skills. Change is pivotal in the development of any organisation and the ability to handle the change is key for all HR professionals.

In this article, Heather Girling, Staff Wellbeing Manager at the University of Bath explores how people navigate change in the workplace, sharing the impacts a change in mindset can have on a person’s reaction to change. The post continues some of the great expertise Heather has contributed to GE Insights so far:

Navigating Change in Recent Years

Recent years have been challenging for everyone, with constant upheaval in the news, navigating change has been almost unavoidable. Navigating these changes is a required skill and behaviour as we adapt to these more global challenges such as climate change and the economy or personal change at work or home.

Everyone has different reactions to changes that affect us. Sometimes, we run, hide or are in denial feeling overwhelmed. Other changes can have an adverse impact, making us feel happy, excited, energised and hopeful.

Getting comfortable with change is the first step but then we have to figure out how to navigate through it, and ultimately, how to use it to support us in the future. Change is an integral aspect of any organisation, meaning employees need to understand how to deal with change in order to weather it. The silver lining with any change is that no matter how painful and uncomfortable it is, learning how to confront it healthily can only help us grow. Managing change and the emotions that accompany it helps you:

  • Learn about yourself
  • Broaden your perspective
  • Fuel your creativity when it comes to dealing with all aspects of your life
  • Strengthen relationships around you and clarifies your vision

How do we Continue to Care for and Support Ourselves to Ensure we can Weather this Adaptation?

We know that change can have a big impact on wellbeing both positively and negatively, physically and emotionally. This post discusses just one practical way to proactively look after your wellbeing when navigating change in life and in the workplace. Learning to look after your wellbeing in such times helps a person adjust to navigating a changing world and when advocating for change to improve the workplace.

Our approach to the world can be viewed through two simple lenses in terms of mindset – growth and fixed. Carol Dweck ha (see Carol Dweck).

People with a growth mindset thrive under challenge, perceiving problems and change as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop. Those with a fixed mindset believe that any success we achieve is more likely to be considered an affirmation of the skills we are born with, rather than a recognition of the time, effort or practice applied to develop these skills.

When we are navigating change and uncertainty, our mindset becomes a critical factor in how we respond. Change can be challenging, either we are forced to confront a new reality that we do not want, or that is so different from what we have been accustomed to, it can be very difficult to adapt.

If our natural response to challenge is that we embrace it and see it as an opportunity to learn and adapt, we are likely to remain more resilient than if we resist it or see it as an unwanted presence in our lives.

Developing Our Approach to Change

Learning how to recognise a fixed mindset view and reframing it to a more growth mindset view can support your wellbeing. For example, in a fixed mindset frame of mind we might say: “I have no control over what is happening, so there’s no point trying to do anything”.

This statement could have an unhelpful impact on your resilience and wellbeing, whereas you may well feel more empowered and resilient if you took a different approach, such as:

“I’m going to figure out what I can control or influence, and do something about those things”

It has proved to be helpful to externalise and make a list of the main things causing you pain or discomfort, questioning whether you have any control or influence and if you do, however small, plan to address them. It is unlikely that you will be able to control or influence everything.  For these things, it’s important to make a conscious decision – and effort – to acknowledge this and then learn to let go.

These adjustments may seem small, but they can have a very powerful impact on our wellbeing, improving our mental health when reacting to change in the workplace.

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In the recent People Professional Survey 2022, CIPD identified the priority for those building HR capabilities is change management skills. Heather Girling, Staff Wellbeing Manager at the University of Bath discusses how HR managers can improve their management of change in the workplace.

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