No matter how you feel about the current political climate, we can agree on one thing: It is a time of change and uncertainty. For many people, that environment is a stressful one. Change often makes the future feel unclear and therefore unsecure. As a result, job performance and morale can suffer.
How can we avoid letting change-induced anxiety get the best of us? Our community has some ideas.
GovLoop recently launched a poll of the week feature on our website to gauge the sentiment and thoughts of our community. Last week, we asked, “What is your best strategy to cope with change or uncertainty at work?” Our results from 421 participants showed that some tactics like talking to peers were the go-to for public servants dealing with change, while others – like taking time off – were underutilized.
Focus on Control
The majority of respondents (51 percent) said they deal with change by focusing only on what they can control. That result makes sense, because many experts in the fields of psychology and change management agree that this is the best way to handle uncertainty.
By thinking through those issues that you can influence, rather than those you can’t or don’t know how to, you can start to build confidence in your control. That sort of positive, solution-oriented thinking can increase your engagement, morale, and – most importantly – confidence. Then you can use that confidence to then tackle those issues that are less certain.
Talk It Out
An additional 37 percent of respondents said they cope with change by talking it out with managers and peers. This can be a great way to confront your feelings regarding a change, both because it allows you to verbalize your thoughts and also because it can help you work through what those thoughts actually are.
But be careful. Don’t let this conversation turn into a venting session, where all you do is complain. Instead, take tips from our first pointer. Focus on what you can control. Confront what’s worrying you about change and how you feel about it. Then, shift the discussion to ways you can make that change easier to handle. A solutions-focused conversation is much more likely to comfort you and your peers, rather than one solely targeting the negatives of change.
Take Time Off
Surprisingly, only 3 percent of respondents said they consider taking time off when change or uncertainty begins to dominate the workplace. Likely, this is because many view this tactic as an avoidance measure similar to simply keeping busy (which only 5 percent of respondents chose) or blowing off steam (chosen by another 5 percent). However, taking time off can have valuable benefits when you use that time to reset your mental state and gain some perspective on the issues at work. Then, you can return to work with renewed focus, which often leads to increased morale and more productivity.
Of course, this is a luxury not everyone can afford. If you’re new to your job, for instance, you might not have accrued the necessary earned time off to take a vacation. But even if you can’t take a few days away from the office, you can find ways to remove yourself from stress and re-examine how your workplace fits with your life and wellbeing. Consider 15-minute walks outside the office or meditation as ways to escape workplace stress temporarily.
Change is difficult, but it’s also constant. To succeed in any agency, public servants have to equip themselves with the tools and tactics to deal with uncertainty. Focusing on issues within their control, talking through unclear situations with peers, and taking time away from the office are all valuable tools to deal with uncertain times.
GovLoop runs weekly polls on our website. Be sure to check back each week and give your input so we can learn even more about public servants and their tactics.