How to cope with change at work

There are lots of times as a working mum that you may have to cope with change at work – especially if you ask for flexible work arrangements.

You may find things different once you return to work after maternity leave. Perhaps your work pattern, workload or colleagues have changed, your manager may have left or your company moved offices. Whatever the reason, it’s quite normal to find change strange and a little difficult at first – especially if it’s out of your control. However, with the right frame of mind and tactics you can learn to embrace changes at work and even work them for the better.

Embrace change – don’t fight it

The best way to come to terms with change is to accept that it’s inevitable. Think back to your life so far. At some point you will have changed from a junior to a senior school, moved home, changed relationship. If there had never been change in your life, you’d still be at pre-school painting splodgy pictures with the boy next door! You’ll have missed out on so many amazing experiences and fantastic people.

Change is just as inevitable at work, but the difference from some of our life decisions is that it’s usually out of our hands. However, resisting change won’t get you very far. If a decision has been made and can’t be fairly challenged, your best tactic is to accept and even embrace it. Don’t think about all the things you’ve lost or hate about it. Instead try to find some new positives it brings.

So for example, if your boss has moved you away from your old colleagues into a new team, think of this an opportunity to work with and learn from new people and maybe even make new friends. A change in your work also offers the chance to acquire new skills.

Is change at work the real problem?

Sometimes when we react very strongly to something, it’s a sign that we may be struggling to deal with something else. If you feel happy, content and in control of other areas in your life, you’ll have plenty of inner resources to deal with change at work.

So have a look at other areas in your life. Are you struggling to balance your work and home life? Are you in the middle of other big life changes such as moving home, your child starting school or a relationship breakdown? Are you getting enough time for yourself?

Understanding that our strong response to something may not really be about that can help to put it in perspective. It can also help us to recognise that we need to find better ways to cope with other things going on in our lives, or motivate us into asking for support from our partner, colleagues or friends.

Find a way to take control

You don’t just need to passively sit back and accept change if you don’t like it. While you may not be able to undo decisions and put things back to how they were, you can find ways to take some control of your new situation and feel better about it.

So if you find out that changes are being planned at work, ask politely what will happen. Being proactive in finding out information yourself (rather than simply waiting to be told) can help you feel more in control, and give you more time to come to terms with change, put a case for things to be done differently, and find ways to adapt to it.

For example if you find out that your company is planning to merge departments, you can find out your new role, negotiate different terms, request a particular office and make an effort to get to know your new colleagues in advance.

Gather your resources

As a busy working mum you probably have an awful lot more resources to help you cope with change than you realise. So it’s a good idea to take a moment and remind yourself:

  • That you’ve coped with lots of big changes in your life already – many of which led to bigger and better things.
  • Of the valuable skills you have as a working mum, such as great time management, perseverance, patience, and dealing with difficult people (let’s face it, if you can cope with a tired toddler then you can deal with anyone)!
  • That you have people you can turn to, such as a supportive partner or family and understanding friends.