Feelings of disruption are normal when changing jobs or careers. As the world responds to the double-disruption of Covid-19 and automation, highlighted by the World Economic Forum in the 2020 report, Jobs of the Future, the disruption of a job or career change is becoming more common. People within organisations are being reassigned more regularly. Many large organisations are also downsizing office space through the work-from-home scenario, and outsourcing projects to the on-demand workforce that they do not have to employ full time.
When we shift direction, move jobs or build new careers, we are disrupted. This has both a positive and a negative side to it. The positive being that we open ourselves up to new possibilities and opportunities, different ways of doing things, expressing ourselves and showing up in the world differently. The negatives are that we experience the stress of change even it is by choice. There is a degree of loss and grief that accompanies any change and we have to adapt to that.
Transitioning and adapting to change is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen the instant you walk through door of your new company or employer. It will take a few weeks or months depending on a host of variables before you feel comfortable and competent in your new environment and with your new jobs specs and KPIs. There are seven stages to this process and they don’t necessarily take place in a linear fashion. You can loop backwards and forwards during your process.
The Seven Stages of Adjustment and Transition to Change
The process of adjustment and transition to change has seven stages that are really useful to understand. These feelings of disruption are normal when changing jobs, careers or any other change. When you ‘get it’ you will find it easier to understand where you are in the process.
- You minimise the size of the threat so that you can cope with it
- You withdraw and feel down
- You accept that the only way forward is forward
- You test your new reality, your new ideas, your new connections
- Finding Meaning
- You search for meaning in the change you have experienced
- You internalise your new reality and decide that it’s all okay, in fact it’s goo
Endings and beginnings are part of life and are important for our continued growth and evolution. Listen to my podcast on the Seven Stages of Adjustment and Transition for a more detailed explanation that will relate to you in the workplace as well as your family.
Takeaways for winning at work
- When you start a new job, function, role or are in a new team, be patient with yourself.
- Remember your strengths and play to them.
- Look at your new ‘experience’ as an opportunity for reinvention and growth.
- If you are stepping into a leadership role, self-leadership is key – how will your team see you leading yourself and managing your own transition, and will you engage them to be part of it?
- Perhaps you are shifting from being employed to self-employed, whether as a solopreneur or a business owner. Make sure you don’t just work in your business but take time to work on your business too. It’s easy to miss this when you are working to survive and pay your own salary.
- Whatever your shift is about, ask yourself two questions:
- What did I learn from where I was?
- How can I grow from the experience?
- If you are retiring from formal employment this is a massive life transition. You need to retire and find new ways to continue to earn a living (because you will be living for a long time) and to engage and stimulate yourself. There is a lot of letting go of what you know and stepping into what you don’t know.
- All of these situations will see you going through the same seven stages of adjustment and transition.
Takeaways for winning at home and life
- Even moving house, suburb, town or country is a massive transition and change. A local move will take a few months to adjust to while moving provinces, and especially moving country will take a couple of years.
- Your children will go through the same seven stages of adjustment and transition as you when there is a physical move, a change of school or due to death or illness in the family.
- Breathe, give yourself and each other time to adjust and take solace from the fact that this too shall pass, eventually.
Future-proof Yourself – new book!
For a deep dive into dancing with disruption, order my new book, Future-proof Yourself (Penguin Random House), available in stores and online from mid-July 2021. Order here.
“These turbulent times, which are in part due to the catalytic effect of the global pandemic are radically altering what we do and how we do it. Conceptually we know we need to adapt and future-proof ourselves against these seismic changes. But we just don’t know how. Nikki has authored a brilliant, practical blueprint on how to do just that.” Siphiwe Moyo, Global Speaker and Adjunct Faculty Member @ GIBS, Henley and Wits Business Schools.