University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Change and Your Career

By Rosie Barry, Employee Career Enrichment Program Director

Many employees at the University of Minnesota are experiencing change as their departments reorganize. While some are excited, others are feeling uncomfortable. How do you feel about it? Do you like it or does it depend on how the change will impact you? Whether or not you like change, it will continue. To successfully manage your career, you must be ready to handle it. Step one is to recognize that working with change is a career skill. The second step is to be aware of your natural reactions to change, so that they don't limit your career and job options.

Working in the midst of change has become an important career skill. An employee who gets the label of "resistant to change" may have a harder time getting ahead in his or her career. Being left behind by insisting on doing things the "way we've always done them" is even more limiting. Being flexible has never been a more important work skill. According to William Bridges, a well-known change consultant, " change happens so frequently today that one change isn't complete before another is being launched."

Taking a different focus, does your personal reaction to change impact your progress in your career? Discomfort with change can limit you in learning new concepts and skills. If there are skills you need to update in your job, don't put it off any longer. You need to work on them now. If you've been thinking about changing jobs but haven't taken any steps forward, you need to take action.

So what can you do to increase your flexibility in the face of change? First, recognize your personal style. If you don't like change, accept that fact and find ways to work around it. It's also helpful to realize that you may need a new perspective. Bridges also stated that nonstop change demands a new mindset. Perhaps you need to work to find a new way to look at change.

It can also help to take small steps to get into the habit. Practice making small changes. If you are thinking of getting a degree, don't focus on the degree. Instead, start with one class. If you are thinking of getting a new job, identify two people who you can network with and contact them. Or, just take a skill-building workshop to get you to start networking.

On a smaller scale, just doing some simple things may help. Join a professional organization and attend the meetings. Ask your supervisor for a new area of responsibility and offer to train someone on completing one of your responsibilities. Look for new ways to do your routine tasks. Any of these small steps will help you get into the change habit.