I recently noticed that my perception of the word “change” has, well, changed. Until recently, the word “change” has always had a negative connotation in my mind. This was a subconscious feeling, but it had a huge impact on how I reacted when change was forced upon me. Even good changes or exciting changes threw me for a loop!

I liked to stick to my routine and plan everything out as far in advance as possible. I found comfort in knowing exactly what my day/week/month/year had in store for me. This, of course, was really difficult to achieve because change is absolutely unavoidable.

Working as a consultant for an unpredictable project for the past year has knocked my “Type A” personality down a few pegs and helped me build a skill set to handle change better. Whether it’s big changes, small changes, good changes, or bad changes, change is inevitable, and it is important to equip ourselves with what we need to survive and thrive when change is forced upon us.

As a consultant, change is the name of the game. Due to the nature of the project I’m currently working on, changes come at us fast and furiously. Some are welcomed changes, and some are unexpected or unfavorable changes. In this particular project, many of these are welcomed changes, but require our team to work quickly to accommodate with little room for mistakes. Here are a few things I’ve learned that have helped me react efficiently and effectively when change is forced upon us:

  • Don’t Panic!
    Upon first hearing of an unexpected change, your gut reaction may be to panic. Channel those nervous feelings into a laser focus. Focus on gathering all pertinent information and ask questions when you don’t understand something. Gathering all of the facts is key in ensuring you react appropriately when an unexpected change comes about.
  • Map Out the Changes
    I’m a visual person, so physically seeing these changes laid out in front of me on a process map helps me understand how the change will impact existing processes, other teammates, and other areas of the business.
  • Predict
    Take this change and use it as a learning opportunity to help you prepare better for the next set of changes. Compare these changes to previous ones the change-giver has given in the past. See if you notice patterns and work to get the pieces in place to better react to the next urgent change request.
  • Reflect
    How did you do? After the initial change is implemented, reflect on how you reacted to the change and how you helped make the implementation as painless as possible. What worked well? What may be an area of opportunity for next time?

Change is not easy and is often out of your control—but when you focus on what you can control (which is your reaction to change), you’ll see the success that you and your team are capable of.