How to embrace change in your industry
You just got an email from your boss telling you a new computer system is being installed next month, and you’re expected to get up to speed on how to use it in two weeks.
This news makes you:
A. Excited. You love learning new things that will increase efficiency.
B. Apprehensive. You were finally getting used to the existing system.
C. Angry. You don’t see why it’s needed. If it’s not broken, why fix it?
If you didn’t answer A, you might be more uncomfortable with change than you realize, says Erica Lankford, an instructor in the MBA program at the University of Phoenix Birmingham Campus. “If you want to thrive at work,” she says, “you need to be able to accept that change is inevitable and embrace it in order to grow.” She offers six ways to prepare for change:
Join professional organizations.
By signing up for work-related groups and regularly attending networking events with colleagues in your field, Lankford says, “you will start hearing a lot of different perspectives about what’s going on, and you will necessarily find out about changes that are in store in your industry.”
When you’re better informed, she notes, it helps you feel more comfortable about the future and prepare for it.
Keep up on reading.
Most industries offer free online or printed newsletters and other publications highlighting cutting-edge practices in their fields. Subscribe to these, Lankford suggests, and set aside some time each week — even if it’s just 30 minutes — to read articles on emerging trends. The more information you absorb, the more likely you will be ready for whatever lies ahead in your industry.
Determine where you fit in.
Look for a role in a newly developing sector of your field that interests you or matches your background and talent.
Although Lankford works as a human resource professional, she is interested in technology because of her background in engineering. “With so many different HR systems to choose from, I reach back to wear my engineering hat in my job when it comes to finding and acquiring the latest HR system,” she says.
Seek professional development.
If you learn about a new skill that you think will help your career, tell your employer you’d like training in that area, or enroll in a class on your own.
Be an early adopter.
“When you hear about a new technology making headway in your industry, whenever possible, try being one of the first ones to adopt it,” Lankford suggests. “Nine times out of 10, it’s probably going to help you become more productive, effective and efficient,” she says.
Share your knowledge.
Once you become steeped in industry trends and upcoming changes in your field, you can bring new ideas back to your boss and co-workers to help them prepare for the future, too.
“By doing that,” Lankford says, “you will be perceived by others as a trendsetter and increase in value exponentially as an employee.”