Career Corner: Thrive During Organizational Change

Haley Foutch

July 5, 2016   |     West Now Home

By Haley Foutch

The content herein is that of the author and does not reflect the position or opinion of Western International University (West). This article originally appeared in the West Alumni Connection newsletter.

You see it all the time in corporate America: the dreaded organizational change. Restructuring can mean great things for an organization; it can save money, increase efficiency, or better align the company with industry standards. For the employees who are being impacted, it can mean uncertainty, stress, and decreased morale. That said, organizational changes can also offer an opportunity for career growth. Professional career coach Haley Foutch offers tips for successfully navigating organizational change.

To take advantage of potential opportunities, you first have to understand what career growth looks like to you. Is it a step up the career ladder? Is it a completely new career? Is it new responsibilities or mastering new skills? If the next step you envision does not fit with the path your current company is taking, it is the perfect time to begin a new job search. If you want to stay with your company, it is time to develop an action plan to thrive during your organization’s changes.

Change Your Perspective
Have you evaluated your position and found that it doesn’t align with the changing direction of the company? Are you struggling to stay busy at work each day, or to feel like you are making strong contributions to the organization’s goals? If you are answering yes, look to add additional responsibilities to your role. Talk to department managers and find out the needs within their areas. Determine where your skills can be well utilized, and make a case for yourself. This can lead to involvement in new initiatives. It is even possible that an entirely new position could be created for you based on a conversation. If that doesn’t work, seek out a new internal role. Don’t limit yourself to looking at your company’s online postings. Talk to people in your organization to find out positions that may be up and coming but haven’t yet been advertised.

Assess Your Skills
Have you been considering a new certification? Is there a topic in which you have interest that could also benefit your company? Now is the time to jump on it! After you complete it, be sure the right channels (your manager, human resources, or perhaps someone else in your organization) are aware of your new credentials. Ask how you can utilize your new skills in the workplace, or even make suggestions if warranted. Additionally, begin tracking your achievements at work. You can’t expect others to pay attention to all of your accomplishments. Instead keep a record yourself and be ready to discuss it when and where necessary, such as your performance evaluation.

Network
It is time to start getting involved within your company. Join committees, participate in events, and do anything you can to meet other employees and develop stronger relationships. Making yourself known can help when decision-makers are reviewing and making changes to current positions. Outside your company, participate in professional gatherings at organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce or an industry-relevant professional association. Don’t discount personal interest activities, which can also provide a great opportunity for cultivating relationships. Someone in your local running club or interest group could be a valuable addition to your network. You can’t expect opportunities to fall in your lap, but you can potentially discover your next venture through your network.

Don't Panic
If you do your very best and still end up with a change that doesn’t fit your needs, such as a completely new role (or worse, being laid off), try not to let it get the best of you. It is natural to go through a grieving process, but you can bounce back! You have been assessing your needs, building your skills, and networking. Through this process, you developed an understanding of the types of positions that fit your background and future goals. Take some time to determine how you want to move forward. When you feel ready to find that next opportunity, don’t let anything stop you!

Haley Foutch is a professional career coach, outplacement consultant, and university faculty member who has devoted the past 6 years to helping people better their lives through career planning and advancement. She focuses on working with clients to position themselves for transition into new ventures through exploration, career decision-making, self-marketing, and individualized job search strategies. Haley has an MS and EdS in Career Counseling and is a National Certified Counselor.

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