Contrary to how many people view and respond to change in the workplace, it’s been my experience that periods of organizational adjustment typically represent big fat beach balls of opportunity for those willing to pitch in and help.

There’s a good deal of writing and guidance out there for leaders striving to facilitate change … but much less about how those below the deciding lines can leverage these ripe opportunities to advance their interests and show why they merit more attention and investment. If you’re on the receiving end of some uncomfortable professional adjustments, here are a few thoughts to help you seize the day.

6 Ideas to Help You Cope and Prosper During Periods of Change

  1. Tough love … just get over it. Yes, things will be different. Yes, it’s likely that the comfortable culture you’ve managed to cocoon in for the past few years will never be the same. And yes, you can complain, fret and worry yourself sick … but it won’t change a thing, other than wreck your mental and physical health. If you can’t stand it, go somewhere else. Otherwise, move on and look around for an opportunity to grab hold of before someone pushes you out of the way.
  2. Try focusing on the realities behind the changes. Most significant organizational changes are either in response to something new and different in the marketplace, or, in anticipation of an emerging opportunity. Whether the move is offensive or defensive, the only mistake would be to not adapt and survive or aspire. And yes, chances are, this period of change offers countless opportunities for you to fix the things that have been bugging you for years.
  3. Recognizes that your bosses are looking for help. While the people above you might be responsible for or advocating the changes, they feel the pressure every bit as much (or more) as you do. They are looking for people to help build and help navigate the way forward. Good leaders aren’t looking for blind allegiance, they are looking for smart people to recognize the situation and help find a way forward in spite of the inevitable potholes, speed bumps and pitfalls. Offer your help…prove your ability to get things done and watch your opportunities multiply!
  4. Those who fill the gaps and seize opportunities collect power. And no, pursuing power is not inherently evil. (See also: “The Noble Pursuit of Power and Influence”) Typically, only a small percent of all of the people in any organization set the priorities and manage the resource allocation issues. That’s power … and no matter how hard I try, I cannot imagine a world where I prefer that someone else wield my priorities. There’s a lot good about being one of those few deciding how and who and when.
  5. Times of change are rich learning opportunities. As comfortable is routine might be, if you’re not operating on the edge of the unknown, you’re not learning. Shutting down the learning process and shutting out learning opportunities is a great way to guarantee that you’ll become global road kill in this less than friendly world we work in.
  6. The bosses you support and the people you help during periods of change have long memories. The people you help today are the hiring and promoting managers and networking associates of tomorrow. Let them remember you for the right reasons.

The Bottom-Line for Now

There’s a hundred thousand ways for managers to muck up the change process. It’s your job to take away a few of those opportunities by diving in and helping with the heavy lifting during a period of change. The worst mistake you can make is standing in place while all around you is moving. It’s a great way to get run over.

This blog originally appeared at artpetty.com.

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