by Motivational Keynote Speaker Jean Gatzzip line

Remember when work used to be FUN? These days? Uh… not so much. Trying to survive change in today’s workplace reminds me of my first ziplining experience. It was anything but fun! Suspended 300 feet in the air, I couldn’t wait to get back on solid ground again! I had my doubts, but I’d signed up for this (non-refundable) trip and would have to make the best of it.

I’ll bet you’ve had more than your share of days lately that leave you thinking, “This is not what I signed up for. What happened to solid ground?” Ziplining taught me lessons I share with organizations that want to out-perform the competition and STAND OUT in a positive way.

1. Be prepared. Instead of educating myself in advance, I just tried not to think about it. Most people tell me they didn’t spend much time preparing for how they will have to work differently to survive change. Instead, they spent most of their time trying not to think about it – hoping that change wouldn’t find them. Now they’re scrambling to catch up.

How about you? Are you wasting time wishing for the good old days? Have you taken ownership of new responsibilities or are you doing only what’s needed to get by? Do you deal with change… or does change have to deal with you?

2. Ask questions. Our leader patiently answered my “how-to” and “what-if” questions. He wouldn’t have known I needed help if I’d faked confidence instead of speaking up. Since communication suffers when people are stressed, savvy leaders encourage questions and share as much information as possible.

Open, honest, direct and inclusive communication builds trust and strengthens relationships with customers and coworkers. How are trust and communication in your organization? What changes need to be made and who needs to be involved in making those changes?

3. Know where you’re going. My main goal that day was to land safely on the next platform. There was only one direction I could take to get where I needed to go – forward.

When it comes to the goals of your team and your organization, does everybody know where they’re going? Do you have a plan in place? Are you moving forward? If not, what steps can you take to “adjust your course,” get back on track, and STAND OUT in a positive way?

4. Become a quick study. To survive this new experience, I had to learn fast. Taking my time and learning at my own pace were not options that day! Are you taking advantage of training, education and learning opportunities to help you STAND OUT as a valuable team member? Or are you plodding along at your own pace?

“Business as usual” is no longer enough. If you choose to fall behind, you’re choosing to be left behind… and catching up will be very hard to do. Next week I’ll share the rest of my survival tips. What have you done to survive change in your workplace?  What’s working for you? What do you wish you had done sooner? I’d love to hear from you!


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  1. Etha Bradley March 10, 2011 at 9:16 am · · Reply

    I had heard your lecture about 3 years ago and was quite impressed with your presentation. I even purchased your CD. I have worked for USDA for 35 yrs. under 7 presidents and I can tell you there have been changes. I learned a long time ago that you have to face these changes with a positive attitude. At times you shake your head wondering what were they thinking but move forward anyway. We are now facing our office being consolidated with another field office and moving to a new location. Which means at least a 25 mile drive for everyone. We are going from servicing 6 counties to 13 counties and taking on a new format of operations. Some of us are moving into different programs and working with people we know but have not worked closely with. Because of the consolidation we are working on some loans the other office had started working with and find all these mistakes or “why did they do it that way” thoughts. So to get back to your message – we have to look at the whole picture and what the goal is and work our way through it.

    Thank you for your inspirations and logic.

    Etha Bradley
    Area Technician
    USDA – Rural Development

    • Thanks, Etha – You must have been in the audience when I keynoted the conference for Federally Employed Women in Indiana. A great group! What you’re experiencing is common in this economy. Fewer people doing the work of many, with added responsibilities… but thankful to have a job. Choosing to stay positive is tough on some days, but it’s the only way to survive Change. Good for you! Keep up the good work!

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