How to Deal with Negative Change
Change is like Marmite. Some of us love it, some of us hate it. Personally, I work best when there's lots of change, and I think it's a trait of a good EA that we cope well with change.
Whether that's a change of office, an organisational restructure, or dealing with uproar when we change coffee supplier, we EAs, PAs and Office Managers are constantly dealing with all kinds of change.
But what happens when the change is negative and we don't want it? We are used to trying to get others on board with changes, but how do we manage when we're the one being affected?
Take an organisational restructure as an example. What happens when you are moved to report into someone less senior? Maybe someone you thought was the same level as you?
That's exactly what happened to me, and this is how I dealt with it.
I got Upset
First of all, I was really upset about what had just happened. Why was I being demoted? Had I done such a bad job that my boss no longer wanted to be responsible for me? Why was I being shoved out of the way?
It took a good few days for this upset - and anger - to pass. At first it felt like it wouldn't. I felt really low and the sense of betrayal was very real.
I allowed myself to feel these feelings - something which I know to be really important.
I tried to See a Positive
It's really easy for people to tell you to look at the positives when you genuinely don't feel that there aren't any. So my advice would be to not even start until the hurt and anger have started to subside. It might take a day; it might take a week. Don't try to force it, but eventually you will feel a little calmer.
First of all, I would try and see this from another point of view. It's quite possible that your new line manager didn't push this, and they might be stuck in the middle and feeling rather awkward. Try not to direct your frustration at them, rather, see them as someone who has simply been caught in the crossfire. It's possible that this is difficult for them too.
Next, I tried to pick out one single positive thing that was a direct result of the reorg. For me, this was getting the chance to work closely with a new team. It meant that I could learn something new. I focused on that point and made it my mission to throw myself into it. I decided that I could be miserable about this change that I could do nothing about, or I could try to take something from it.
I moved on
Having accepted that there was nothing I could do about this change, I made the conscious decision to move on.
Moving on can mean different things to different people. For me, I decided that it was my time to look for a new role. Other things had happened besides this, and this was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back.
For others, moving on could be to try and draw a line under your old boss and to start a fresh with your new one. If you are in a position to take a day or two (or more) as annual leave, I would definitely recommend that. I would sweep all of your emails into a folder, and start with a fresh clean inbox (unless you're one of those people who always manages to get their inbox down to a few emails every day).
Ultimately, change can be really challenging, and is made worse when you feel like that change is negative. Try to take a step back, and don't make any decisions in the heat of the moment. Take some time out if you can - even take a day of personal leave if your company allows it. Remember that most likely, no-one is considering your feelings when they make a change, and it's always OK to be angry or upset, but it's probably not personal.