Career coach: How do you cope with change?

The economic crisis is upon us all, but there are ways to soften the blow.

I could never have imagined how much change would take place in the financial market in such a short time. Many of my clients are bankers and traders with lifestyles commensurate with six-figure salaries. All of them have become fearful for their jobs. You may think they have had it good for a long time; but if you strip it down to basics, the threat of insecurity has exactly the same effect on them as it would on you or me.

The third sector is traditionally considered to be more secure, and therefore a safer harbour for employees during times of economic flux. However, some supporters will be forced to cut back on their generosity, so organisations that depend on relationships with philanthropic donors - corporate or individual - will have to become more imaginative and resourceful than ever to ensure those relationships are maintained. Change is on the horizon.

How do you deal with change? If you have to create change within your organisation, the nature of the change will have a bearing on your delivery of it. Whether it is you that instigated it and whether the prospect of it is exciting or daunting will both be factors. Whatever the case, you will meet a range of responses from your colleagues, ranging from shock or worry to delight.

Resistance can often be the most difficult thing to encounter. The thing to remember when you meet resistance in others is that it is often a type of survival strategy. People cope initially by shutting things out. They are rarely trying to be bloody-minded; they are just trying to survive the situation. In time, most people come round to the notion of change. Try not to meet resistance with resistance, and allow them to express their feelings and have their say.

What if the change is affecting you? Do you tend to isolate yourself with worries and fears, believing that you shouldn't show your concerns to others? This could be a good time to start talking.

Getting support when effecting change, or when change is brought to your door, is best done within some kind of a framework. My advice is to create a structure consisting of people that can enable you to receive support, if one doesn't exist. Suppressing your concerns is a certain way to transform them into unwanted conditions.

One thing is for sure: change will become a way of life for the foreseeable future.

Amanda Falkson is a psychotherapist who runs monthly Tough at the Top groups for voluntary sector chief executives.

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