Hello and welcome back to the Skills 360 podcast. I’m your host, Tim Simmons, and today, I want to talk about adapting to change.
You might have heard that “change is the only constant,” meaning nothing ever stays the same. That’s easy to say, but not always easy to deal with. Many of us like certainty and stability. We get comfortable and we want to stay that way. But being comfortable shouldn’t mean being complacent, especially in today’s world.
Change doesn’t always happen at the same pace. These days, change seems so fast. And the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new uncertainties and has accelerated certain trends, like the move toward remote work. Many industries have been battered. And the fact that people are tired of the word “pivot” only demonstrates how the pace of change has accelerated.
We’re dealing with office closures, scheduling upheaval, working from home, lockdowns, shuttered schools and online learning, travel restrictions, and quarantines. And those facts of life have spurred a host of changes to our ways of working and relating. So how can you adapt in this complex, ever-changing, volatile world? How can you stay ahead of the curve and ensure you don’t get left behind?
I’m going to start by advising you to pay attention to your own health and wellness. Uncertainty breeds anxiety and stress. That can take its toll on the best of us, and it may even lead to burnout. So develop good habits for sleeping, exercise, and diet. And stay connected socially in whatever ways you can.
If you’re working from home, as many of us are, ensure healthy boundaries between your work and personal life. Learn to close the office door at the end of the day, and leave it closed. And while you might have enjoyed forgoing a morning shower and wearing pajamas early in the pandemic, you might discover that gets old fast. Maintain your professionalism and a sense of routine. I know one manager working from home who actually drives his car around the block at the start of each workday, just to produce the feeling of transitioning from home to work.
Whether or not you’re working from home, you’ve surely been asked to use some new tools and technologies in the past year. Embrace these new tools, and maximize them. Sure, the world is plagued with Zoom fatigue. But you can learn to use Zoom well. And you can even lead your workplace in developing policy, best practices, or guidelines for these tools.
Unfortunately, many people and workplaces muddle along with these new tools, either misusing or underutilizing them. So put some time and resources into training. You don’t want to be “that guy,” the one who still can’t find the mute button during a Zoom meeting.
As the world and workplaces navigate new ways of working, you may have to be more intentional about building relationships and networks. It can be terribly easy at this time to become isolated and retreat to your own echo chamber. But this is dangerous. Keep reaching out. Strengthen your existing network, and work to expand it. Investing in building your network puts you in a better position to take advantage of new opportunities.
You might be inspired to seek new opportunities on your own. Or you might be forced into it, as companies pivot their workforces or shed employees and costs. Either way, you want options. And the more, the better. In this regard, managing your risk requires openness. Opportunity is everywhere. You just need to learn to see it.
All of this advice applies whether you are adapting to change within your current job or you are dealing with job loss or a furlough. If you’re out of work or temporarily laid off, stay productive. Improve your skills. Expand your network. Take care of yourself. And stay up-to-date on all that’s happening in the world and your industry.
Besides “pivot,” the word that everyone seems to hate these days is “unprecedented.” Like it or not, it’s apt. Never before have we seen change happen so fast and furiously. And if you don’t want to be left on the trash heap of history, you’ve got to learn to keep up.
That’s all for today. So long. And see you again soon.