But I Like Change, Don’t I?
A few years ago I got the job of my dreams, a role with a seat on the Executive Committee of a large organisation. I can remember how happy I was when I heard I had been successful. Then, for the next 6 months, it was all down hill emotionally. One day I went into the CEO’s office, said I was miserable and I wasn’t sure it was the role for me. He laughed, looked me in the eye and said: “you are suffering from change fatigue”. We had a good (coaching) conversation and I went away feeling lighter.
He was right. The new role, whilst it was an ideal role for me, also took me a long way out of what I knew and was comfortable with, and this lack of the familiar had knocked my confidence and energy.
Curiously, simply recognising this helped me to move out of it and move towards more positivity and engagement. My emotions were released and I could get on with enjoying the role.
Changes are plentiful, both positive and more challenging. New roles, new managers, redundancy and organisational change affect us at work. Events also occur in our personal lives which impact work, such as being a new parent or moving to a new country.
For most of us, any transition can bring about some anxiety, and we may experience a level of stress as we deal with the new. Even if we are someone who identifies as enjoying change, the transition can be challenging.
How can we approach these changes to enable us to move through them more smoothly?
Firstly, we can understand that every change brings with it a personal and psychological transition. Changes are the events happening to us – the transition is how we adjust to the change in circumstances. Unless we pay attention to the transition process we can end up getting stuck emotionally and not moving into a creative and productive space.
William Bridges wrote about this in his book, Managing Transitions. He outlined 3 key stages of transition – Endings & Letting go, The Neutral Zone and New Beginnings. At each of these stages, if we pay attention to our emotions and psychological wellbeing, it can ease the speed of transition to the next stage. We will often be flooded with emotions at the early stage of the transition and, unless we work through this, it is hard to think clearly and begin to move towards the new state.
In my own case, my CEO supported me through coaching to help me transition into the role, a role I went on to enjoy enormously. The conversation I had with him released the emotion, enabling me to think clearly.
We can all support people through transition. Paying attention to the psychological aspects of transition alongside the practical aspects of change may be the difference between a valued colleague remaining in a role or leaving.
Who around you is going through a transition? What coaching conversations could you have with them to support them?
Continue below to watch our webinar on “Career Transitions and Changes at Work – How Coaching Can Help”.
About the Author
Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes (ACTP). Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.