Career/Job Advice

Dealing with Staff Changes

Whether you work in an office, a factory, a theme park or well anywhere for that matter, changes in staffing are bound to happen. With every change, the chemistry in the workplace changes. Employers have two basic desires of their employees as change occurs; deal with it and be productive.

Of course change comes for a variety of reasons. It could be that staff get promoted up the organizational chart, fired, takes a leave of absence, maternity / paternity leave, retires, quits, and sometimes demoted or transfer to another department or team. There are a lot of reasons that lead to changes in personnel. Why you might even find teams expand their numbers due to increased demand, someone takes advantage of a job share program and works part-time instead of full-time or is whisked away to work on a special project for an extended period of time. So many possibilities.

For whatever reason or combination of reasons, change is a constant. When change happens in your workplace, you will be impacted in some way. How do you typically react when it does? For some, it’s a time of anxiety. After all, will you get along with the newbie? Are they bringing in someone who will be open to being mentored by you and appreciate all your accumulated wisdom, or is the new person actually someone coming in who actually might know more than you and become the new darling of the workplace relegating you to second favourite?

On the positive side, when someone comes into your workplace they too have a past. They have work and educational experiences unique to them, and they might bring new energy, ideas, challenge the status quo. This can be good to shake conformity up a bit and stimulate in you a drive you’ve been missing.

I found out yesterday that one of our Clerks has successfully competed for a position as a Social Services Caseworker. While she’ll be staying in the organization, she’ll be reassigned to another office and replaced with someone, but the time-frame wasn’t announced. While she’s not the Clerk for my team, nonetheless she is an employee in our office, and that impacts us all.

Having been a Caseworker myself prior to my own job change to an Employment Counsellor, I fired off a lengthy email, dispensing my own philosophy when I was in that role, giving her tips on how to manage both her caseload and her mental health as the job can be stressful. I want her to succeed by also to truly value the job and excel in the role because it is so impactful on the clients served.

So we have two Clerks leaving us, one at the end of this week and now a second in a week or two I’m guessing. While I’m happy for both women, I can’t help wonder who is coming to replace them. Not consumed by this of course, just curious. On my own team, we’re down a member at the moment, and one day that position may be filled, but for now we’re operating minus one and have been for some time.

Ever find yourself speculating on changes to come? My co-worker and I have. Who is near retirement? Who is likely to add a family member? Who seems ready for a promotion or change? Conversely, who is here for life and plans on being buried in their office! We even talk about the often taboo subject of ourselves. We’re pretty tight with each other, but change is coming there too. My colleague is putting his hat in the ring for some other positions down the road and I may have to deal with a new office-mate. I might even find myself shipped off to another office down the hall perhaps.

Change is constant. I suppose for some their reaction to change depends on how distant or near the change is to them in terms of their own reaction to it. What if your immediate supervisor were to change? Good? Disastrous? About time? Depends doesn’t it on your relationship with the person now.

One thing I learned over time is to adapt with change. Embrace it don’t fear it. The more you resist it, the longer it takes you to deal with it. The sooner you accept it, the better you come to deal with it and move forward. And it won’t do anyone any good to compare your new co-worker to your previous one. Just think how much a new husband or wife enjoys being compared to the previous holder of that title. It grows old very quickly.

New people are different people. They might keep their desk tidy or cluttered. They might bring plants to work or goofy (to you) stuffed toys on their desk. They might have light sensitivity and you like natural light streaming in. There’s going to be some discussion needed on boundaries, compromises, shared space, work preferences etc. Expect that.

Change requires change on your part even when you still hold down the same job but others around you move in and out. Imagine yourself joining your team and what you’d hope to find on your first days. Be welcoming, accommodating, helpful and respectful. You were the new person once yourself.

If you are so inclined share your way of doing things, explaining the, ‘why’s’ behind your actions. It’s always wise to share the ‘why’s’. Gotta love those emails with subject lines, “Staffing Changes.”

By Kelly Mitchell

*Re-posted with permission. Original can be found at: https://myjobadvice.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/dealing-with-staff-changes/

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