Managing personal change

Starting your first job after graduating is a big step that can be daunting. Changing jobs can also be disruptive, even though there are often career advantages. Knowing how to deal with change in your life and your workplace is an important skill that will make life easier.

In this article, we’ll offer you tips to deal with these big changes as well as general stress in the workplace and how to manage conflict. We’ll also cover tips for remote working and share some useful UJ resources and further reading.

Dealing with change at work

When dealing with change in the workplace, an important skill is to learn how to control it where you can, and how to adapt to changes that are out of your control.

Here are six useful tips for dealing with changes in the workplace. For more, you can view this article on 10 tips for dealing With difficult changes in work & life.

Know what you’re dealing with

When it comes to dealing with change, we often feel stressed out or anxious without acknowledging the real problem. The first step is to identify what’s going on, name the problem and acknowledge your emotional reaction to it.

Take control if you can

An important aspect of coping with change is figuring out whether you can control it or not, and taking action where possible. A change like having a new boss is something that you can’t control and just have to accept. There are plenty of situations in which you can take control, though. Even something like a new boss leaves you room to control how you react and being open, welcoming and communicative will make the transition easier.

Accept what you can’t control

In cases when the change is out of your control, don’t waste energy fighting against it. Learn to accept it, even if it’s not what you want, and adapt to the new reality. Once you’ve made that mental adjustment you will save your energy to fight new battles instead of lingering on what used to be.

Take care of yourself

As we’ve written previously, physical and mental health are often linked. It is important to take care of both your body and your mind as you tackle change. Dealing with change in the workplace can be difficult and draining, so be compassionate with yourself.

Take advantage of new opportunities

Change often comes together with opportunity. Rather than fighting changes, try to embrace the new opportunities it creates and take advantage of them.

Be ready for change

Change is constant, and you will probably have to deal with new situations or changes soon enough. Use these skills on how to handle change and prepare to apply them to the next challenge that comes your way.

Working remotely

Working remotely has its own whole set of challenges. These vary from technical issues to issues of mental health and isolation. Here in South Africa, we also have to deal with additional issues like load-shedding.

Here are 6 tips for working remotely. For more you can read this article: Working from home – 12 challenges and how to overcome them

Communication:

Communication between humans is hard enough face-to-face, but it’s much harder when working from home. This is why communicating effectively is one of the most common challenges when working remotely. Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams are all great examples of communication technologies available to make sure everyone is on the same page, and everything runs smoothly.

Loneliness:

Working remotely often leads to a lack of social interaction, causing all of us to feel more isolated and lonely. This is not only bad for mental and physical well-being but can affect work performance. Plan social activities outside work that give you the social interaction you need. You could also try working in a co-working space or from a library or coffee shop.

Not being able to unplug:

Working and living in one space can blur the lines between your work and personal life. This makes it difficult to relax and switch off once the day is over. It might not always be practical, but if possible, create a dedicated office space in your home to help you create boundaries between work and your private life. Better yet, you could go and work somewhere else for a while, such as a coffee shop.

Motivation:

The lack of external inputs and interaction with coworkers can make you lose sight of your long-term career goals. To counter this, try writing down your long-term goals including goals that relate to your career and stick them on a wall where you can see them. Attending industry events and conferences can also be a great motivational boost and can now often be done online.

Taking vacation time:

Taking a vacation can actually increase your productivity, mental ability and efficiency. Unfortunately, many people end up forgetting to take breaks when working from home. Even just getting away over the weekends will give you a chance to recharge and relax.

Finding reliable internet:

A poor internet connection or out-of-date technology can cause a lot of frustration. Ideally, the company you work for should make sure you have everything you need to connect from home. If you are fortunate your employer could agree to reimburse your internet costs, so you can invest in the fastest connection available. If all else fails it can be good to find places with a good WiFi connection near your home that you can use in the short term.

Stress in the workplace:

Stress is unavoidable in the workplace and there are many causes of stress in the workplace. While there is little that you can do to entirely remove it, you can certainly learn to manage it. Knowing how to reduce stress and how best to handle unavoidable stress will serve you well in your work and personal life.

We recently wrote on the topic of practical tips to handle stress and restore balance to life. You can read the article to learn more about what stress actually is, the two main types of stress and the symptoms to look out for, as well as some techniques and tips to reduce stress.

Conflict in the workplace:

Like stress, there are many causes of conflict in the workplace and conflict is also something you are unlikely to avoid in your career. The trick to conflict management in the workplace is to try and view it in a positive rather than a negative light. Although most of us naturally like to avoid conflict, by using effective conflict management techniques you can turn workplace conflict into an opportunity to grow and learn.

Here are two useful articles that go in-depth into managing workplace conflict.

UJ resources and further reading:

UJ’s Centre for Psychological Services and Career Development (PsyCaD) provides a variety of services including counselling, career guidance and assessment. PsyCaD offers a career work-readiness programme and a student employability programme

PsyCaD’s work-readiness workshops aim to provide effective, comprehensive and holistic career work-readiness services. Taking part in these workshops will help improve your readiness to enter the work environment as well as prepare you for transitioning into your career upon graduation. Some areas covered include business etiquette; preparing for the world of work; communication skills; leadership skills; teamwork and presentation skills.

Each year PsyCad publishes a graduate recruitment guide, which not only provides contacts and details on many top companies seeking to recruit graduates but also offers useful practical advice to obtain and succeed in a new job:

You can also look at this PsyCaD – Career Services page for more detail and links to their latest services and publications.