Let’s be honest, we don’t always cope well with change. For many people, the bigger the change, the bigger problem. If you agree then making the transition of moving into a new role a different department or a brand new organisation can be a stressful experience. But if you think about a butterfly, it is certainly an example of a how change is for the better.
The good news is that there are some simple steps that we can all take to manage the anxiety of transition, making it a more positive and successful experience.
The first thing to recognise is that transitioning between jobs often creates periods of uncertainty and doubt. Knowing that this is normal can help us deal with the situation better. It is an emotional process – a rollercoaster for some – and therefore not something we can rationalise our way out of.
The phases of transition
The transition period involves several phases that most people experience, although the timescale and intensity varies.
First comes the ambiguity of initial excitement coupled with anxiety about the new situation. This may be followed by a honeymoon period of discovery and exploration, where people assist you as a newcomer.
The first dip is normally a reaction to the environment and an inability to consistently function within it as well as you are capable of. This includes logistical systems and procedures that you haven’t yet learned to manage.
As you become more involved in the role, you may experience a second dip – an internal reaction as you continue to adjust your behaviour. This is because former behaviours may not be sufficiently effective or generate the expected reaction. After negotiating with yourself, you need to adapt to the behaviours and norms of the new culture.
Learning from experience
It’s normal to experience negative emotions, so accept and acknowledge those feelings whilst focusing on finding the positives and taking action.
1. Get into a positive mindset. Reflect on/list the top ten successes in your working life so far. Here are 4 points to consider:
- Where have you added value to the organisation or people in it?
- When have you received praise or recognition?
- What has brought you the most enjoyment?
- When have you felt positive and satisfied?
2. Taking into account the above, identify the main skills/qualities you bring that have enabled your success? Identify ten.
3. Look objectively at your new role:
- What are the four or five best things about this opportunity?
- Which of your main skills will be useful?
- What would be the best outcome for you in this role 12 months from now?
- What two things can you do straightaway to move towards achieving this outcome?
- Imagine a colleague you admire stepping into this role. What would they do in the first month/three months?
4. Look for the positive people in your life. Turn to family and friends for support. Share thoughts and concerns with people you trust; those who will listen and enable you to talk things through without judgment.
Ultimately, successfully managing transition stress is about committing to the small actions that will most help you have a positive experience in your new situation.