Being a Better Employee: Stop Sucking at Change


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To be a better employee and more valuable part of a team, you've got to shift your mindset and attitudes about change. You have a responsibility to your team and the organization to be better at navigating and embracing changes. Change is inevitable, you know this - we all know this.

Change is inevitable, you know this - we all know this.

Before I jump any further into this and ruffle some feathers, let me first say that I am pro-employee to my core. Companies need to pay people well, prioritize employee experience, focus on culture, and take care of their people. No question, people over profits, that is their side of the bargain.

The other side of that coin is that it is the responsibility of employees to show up, perform well, have a good attitude and contribute in an effective, meaningful way in their role.

One of the ways to be a much more valuable and effective employee is to face and respond to changes with grace, adaptability, and a good attitude.

People suck at change. And the more they suck at it, the more damage it does to the organization.

In general, employees are absolutely miserable at change.

There are tons of articles and resources out here in internetland that have been written and published about how companies can do a better job of managing and navigating change. You can get a degree in this topic.

Much of that published content is specifically focused on how to reduce the pushback and reluctance of employees around change. Loads of them have advice for getting teams and individuals to embrace change more easily and prevent people from causing huge disruptions and setbacks when it comes to organizational change and/or completely sabotaging it.

We spent a whole month focused on this with the #shiftyestribe, here are the videos and blogs.

Cool, that’s all fine and dandy. Also, time for some real talk:
It’s up to employees to own their shit when it comes to change.

It’s up to employees to own their shit when it comes to change.

If you work for a company then you essentially have a contract and agreement with them that they give you money, and in return you execute their business plan as they see fit. That’s how it works.

An easy way to be in charge of the entire direction and choices and changes made inside an organization is to go start your own. In the meantime, you’ve got to take ownership of the reality that changes are going to come, some will have bigger impact on you than others, and that while being employed by a company it is your responsibility to get your oar in the water and row with everyone else.

In conversations that I have with organizations and leaders it is a common theme to discuss how terrible people are at accepting and adapting to change, big and small. It’s a huge headache for companies and extremely common. Organizations and leaders try to implement and make changes to just about anything and people lose their freaking minds - tear their shirts off like WWF wrestlers, jump off tables, dig their heels in, run around like all the zoo animals escaped. Mayhem, chaos, anger, you get the idea.

The truth is that companies need to change and evolve and innovate or else they’ll go out of business. Employers have the right to make changes, update software, redefine roles, adjust processes, etc. It is your responsibility to contribute, and perform, and have a good attitude about them, and tackle change when it comes.

Mindset is everything.

For some perspective around this, think about it this way: when you were hired, you were able to learn all the software, systems, processes that were in place at the time, no problem.

And now, you could change everything about how your job is done; systems, software, job functions, and hire someone the next day and that person would be able to learn all of it, no problem - just like you did when you were hired.

It is your responsibility to get your oar in the water and row with everyone else.

Also, if that new person were you and you didn’t already work there, you would have no problem learning all of those new systems, software, and processes, no sweat. If you left your job and went somewhere else that would also be true. They would have all new systems, software, etc that you’d have to learn.

When it comes down to it, the issue is not the software changing, or learning a new process, or the time it takes. It’s your mindset. It’s your personal narrative and reaction to changes that make them either easy to tackle, or complicated and terrible for you, your company, everybody around you. 

The flip side of this is that some change legitimately sucks. 

Let’s also be real about the fact that some companies don’t care much about their employees as opposed to how much profit they make. There’s a whole spectrum of how companies treat their people and care about them versus their own bottom line.

As an employee, I think everyone has the right to go to leadership and get clarity around a change. Asking questions around, “Can you help fill me in about some of the ‘whys’ behind this and how this is beneficial for us?” It is certainly better to go ask any questions you have directly and gain more understanding than to speculate or make assumptions, or ask coworkers or other people who won’t have the actual answers.

Another angle I believe is important is that sometimes when changes are made, certain aspects and dynamics are overlooked. I think if you see something in the change that could be made more efficient or improved that it’s valuable to bring that up and share it. Employees have a different, front line perspective and sometimes will see things that could be done in a more streamlined or effective way.

Just know that some companies or leaders will be open and transparent and happy to be candid about the what and why of changes. Some won’t.

The worst choice you can make is to be bent out of shape about some changes that for some reason or another you can’t get past, and stay and be miserable.

If the latter is true, and it’s something that really matters to you, you’ve got to decide if that’s an environment you can stay in and have a good mindset. If you can’t then it might be time to look for other opportunities and leave.

It comes down to personal responsibility and accountability. I believe that the worst choice you can make is to be bent out of shape about some changes that for some reason or another you can’t get past, and stay and be miserable. I touched on this in my blog about Disagree & Commit or Everyone Loses.

It is not your organization’s job, or your coworkers jobs, to drag you through the mud reluctantly with your heels dug in because you’re bent out of shape about changes. Get on board with a good attitude, or make a choice to get off the boat.

I want to leave you with two really great thoughts from, Cy Wakeman. She does a lot of really great work with organizations around change management and employee accountability and mindset. I really love these two concepts I’ve heard her say and they’re totally relevant here: 

  1. “Buy-in is not optional.” Your responsibility as part of the team is to get and remain on board.

  2. “Change isn’t hard, attachment is hard.” Our attachment to the way things used to be, and a desire to keep doing things the same way is what makes change torturous for ourselves if we resist letting go and moving forward.

In the end, change is an inevitable reality. You’re the only one who can determine your mindset and relationship with change. Choose wisely, your peace of mind and success in your job is at stake.

Related links:

This article was created by keynote speaker Galen Emanuele for the #shiftyestribe. Free leadership and team culture content centered on a new focus every month. Check out the rest of this month's content and subscribe to the Shift Yes Tribe at