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Managing the Challenge of Change

Written by Dr. Markel, October 28, 2019

Managing the Challenge of Change

We know that change is constant and that it feels like it is occurring at an increasingly rapid rate — in society and in the workplace. As the change of season falls upon us in Michigan, it is a good time to recognize the challenge of change, and how we deal with it.  



How do you feel about or react to change? Some people value change. Some people respond well to change; they feel comfortable and embrace change. They prefer flexibility and spontaneity. Some people create change such as rearranging the furniture pictures all the time. They are the most interesting people in the world. 

Others want to maintain the status quo. Some people don’t even want to think about change. They feel uncomfortable thinking about change. They prefer consistency, stability, and predictability. But if there are no changes there is rigidity. 


Why is there a resistance to change?  Change is a challenge since anything new usually has elements of danger and opportunity. Change can mean:

  • Giving something up
  • Detaching from the familiar
  • Temporarily being stuck in a place where you do not feel in control
  • Dealing with uncertainty
  • Disruption of established routines and habits
  • Change patterns of a group or culture
  • Disease with uncertainty


What changes have you experienced recently?  Maybe you’re being asked to do more with less. When there are changes in people, activity, or responsibilities, we are required to demonstrate greater flexibility.


We are most likely to resist change when the change is unexpected or radical. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to think or adapt to this type of change. 


So when we’re pushed to change and feeling stressed, we need to take time to relax, look at the big picture, and get to a comfortable level so that we can think. Change at work can move you into an area of vulnerability or disinterest. And then just when you think you understand or have adjusted to the change, things can change again.



What happens when we don’t deal with change? 

  • Communications deteriorate
  • Productivity suffers
  • Team play falls apart
  •  Power struggles intensify
  • Morale plummets
  • Bailout occurs

At some point all of us need help. And we need to help and encourage others.



What are your best strategies for handling coping and managing change? 

  • Use awareness of your personal values and style to deal with the change. Identify strategies to use when you have a conflict between your style and the requirements of your job. 
  • Understand that we have more control than we think we do. Create a fun and low-stress environment. Acknowledge rough spots. Expect resistance from yourself and from others. Expect some change to be too slow and others to be too fast. 
  • Understand the process of change, it is not a one-time event. Understand that small changes can make a difference, go one step at a time. If you know that you will be confronting change in the next six months realize that it will be an irritant. The deeper the change the more transformation time needed. 
  • Use stress management strategies on a systematic basis. The stress related to change is a reality. And it is something you can deal with. You have some control. Identify 3 to 5 steps to relax and get ready to deal with new things. Take deep breathes, visualize yourself doing something fun or being competent. Do the work needed in bursts. Have a collection of general strategies keep you moving towards renewal in contentment? Understand that there are times when a leap of faith is required.


Confront it: change is constant, it is never going to be the same as it was. Actively grieve for the loss, then take a deep breath and acknowledge that you are prepared for what’s next.  

Contact Dr. Geri for continued discussion and ways to support you and others during times of change. Are you interested in greater satisfaction and productivity? Contact Geri at