Change is inevitable. And as much as we may resist it, without it we’d still be using rotary phones and manual typewriters.
Change tends to get a bad rap, yet it can be a very positive thing. To survive in business today, every member of the team, especially admins, must identify, understand, and respond to change. But to thrive, you must become a champion of change!
So, let’s take a look at what change is, how change occurs, and what you can do to become a champion of change.
Examples of Change
Change is in every aspect of our lives. It’s part of mundane things like switching internet providers or rearranging the furniture in the living room. And it’s part of big, life-altering things like getting married, having children, buying a home, or losing a loved one.
On a professional level, change can be simple, like finding a more efficient way to complete a task, or complicated, like learning to support a new executive or changing jobs entirely.
That’s why it’s important to find proactive and productive ways to manage and champion change — because it’s the only way for us to stay engaged and relevant.
The Mindset Shift
To become a champion of change, the first thing that has to shift is your mindset.
The Fixed Mindset is resistant to change. Everything is either black or white, and there’s no room for grey. People with this mindset don’t like a challenge and believe that they’re either good at something or they’re not.
The Innovation Mindset (sometimes called the Growth Mindset) sees change as an opportunity to learn and grow. Challenges aren’t something to avoid, they’re something to overcome. Those who choose the Innovation Mindset understand that just because they don’t know how to do something doesn’t mean they can’t learn how to do it.
The first step to embracing change is to choose the Innovation Mindset.
Adapting to Change
Finding ways to adapt to change – even changes you’re not excited about – is the next step. Sometimes it requires research and collaboration and tapping into your network to figure things out. And sometimes you have to get creative.
I read somewhere once that innovation is only about 10% “new”. How different is the latest smartphone from the previous one? Sure, it might have a better camera or more storage, but most of the features are the same.
Think about that in terms of changes you’re dealing with at the office. In the grand scheme of things, what percentage of “change” is really change at all? Oftentimes, you’re not looking at a major overhaul – just a few small differences.
In this respect, change and innovation go hand in hand!
What is Innovation?
When we think of innovation, we typically think of a new technology or invention that improves our lives. And sometimes that is the case. But innovation can also be as simple as a new way of thinking about and doing things. It’s taking something ordinary and making it better, so it typically involves positive change and improvement. To innovate, you need to take action, produce results, and implement. This is the first step in becoming The Innovative Admin™.
The Innovative Admin is an administrative professional who introduces, creates, or applies new or renewed ideas or methods of doing things to the office environment. It’s someone who is actively doing, seeking, and implementing, not someone who is simply coming up with ideas or maintaining the status quo. As The Innovative Admin™, you aren’t just championing change, you’re helping lead it.
You may have seen this change process diagram before. In order to shift the status quo, you have to go through a change process. It won’t be pretty. In fact, it will likely be chaotic for a bit. But when you emerge on the other side, it becomes the new normal – until the next change, at least!
It’s not coincidental that it mirrors the innovation mindset curve. To become a champion of change, you have to know what the roadmap looks like so that you aren’t taken aback by the detours or stumbling blocks you encounter along the way.
How to Shift from Resisting Change to Embracing It
If I look back at some of the changes I’ve experienced throughout my career, most of them have eventually landed me in a better place. I’ve been able to add to my skillset, expand my professional network, and take on new roles and responsibilities that improved my resume.
When I launched my business in 2005, my goal was to provide virtual assistance services. I had no plans to become a speaker, trainer, or author. But my business changed. The needs of my clients changed. And I realized that my personal interests were changing, too.
If I had resisted the changes that were happening in the economy, ignored the trends in social media marketing, and tried to stay exactly where I was in providing virtual assistance, I would not be as happy and fulfilled in my work as I am today. I know that for a fact.
Early on, I had a client ask me, “What are you going to do when you get too busy to do this all by yourself? Are you going to hire people to help you?” I told him I wasn’t going to let that happen. I didn’t want the headache that came with employees.
He laughed at me, and it made me mad.
But here I am 18 years later, and I have a team of people who support what I’m doing. It’s been a wonderful thing. And now I know that I should have started my business with that kind of foresight, because it wasn’t reasonable to think that I could keep doing what I wanted to do at the level I wanted to do it by myself.
Now, I try to look ahead and ask myself what I’m going to need to do or be prepared for in order for my business to grow. Even if it looks expensive or the process is unclear, my mindset now is, “Who do I get involved to help us navigate this as efficiently as possible? Who can help me shorten my learning curve? How can we make this as positive an experience as possible for everyone?”
3 Keys to Embracing Change Proactively
Based on my experience, there are three things that will help you and your team embrace change more proactively.
- Identify the change and its intended benefits from the start. Here is a simple exercise you can do with yourself or your team.
- We are changing from this __________ to this ___________ because…
- …it will increase _____________.
- …it will decrease ____________.
- …it will improve _____________.
- …it will support our goal of _____________________.
- Clearly communicate the plan, progress, and next steps throughout the change process. What is the plan for making it happen? What are the specific phases (milestones) along the way? What specific actions (tasks) need to be taken in each phase? Who is responsible for leading the plan? How will you track progress in attacking the plan (e.g., weekly calls, status meetings, email updates, project management tools)?
- Celebrate the successes and appreciate the detours along the way. It’s important to celebrate your milestones throughout the change process. It’s also important to discuss the setbacks so you can learn from them. When the change is fully implemented, celebrate the completion of the process and do a full debrief to discuss what worked and what could have gone better. Then update your project plan for the next use. This is another key to helping the next change process work even better for everyone.
A Personal Story of Change In Action
When my husband and I made our two-state move from Iowa to Indiana several years ago, there were multiple positives for us. We both wanted it. We were both excited about it. But I knew there would be setbacks and detours along the way.
As my husband began the job search process, I made it clear that I was fully on board. We recognized and understood upfront that not every phase of this huge change we were planning was going to run according to our ideal timeline and plan. Our goal was that each time a roadblock or detour occurred, we’d stop, analyze, and troubleshoot it as efficiently as possible, without pointing fingers or assigning blame. Then, we could figure out what we needed to do to course correct and get ourselves back on track. Because when everything was said and done, we both still needed to love each other above anything else.
And that’s exactly what we did!
I believe having a conversation before we started helped both of us go into this with a different mindset, which made all of the difference in the world when those challenges did occur.
The other thing that made a positive impact was focusing on the goal. For me, knowing I had my 22-month-old niece and my newborn nephew waiting for me was an awesome incentive to keep me focused throughout the move process.
The Time to Embrace Change is Now
We live in a dynamic world, and what doesn’t change gets stagnant. You don’t want that in your admin career! If you learn to welcome change as it occurs and become a champion of change for yourself, your executive, and your organization, career success will inevitably follow. It might be difficult or frustrating, and it will require some trial and error – but in the long run, it will be worth it!
© 2023 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.