When I think back to 20 years ago in the workplace, I remember:
Much has changed in commerce since then in how we do day-to-day work and in the types of work needed in our world.
- The secretary at the Big 8 firm where I did my internship using a long carriage typewriter to type out all audit-related papers.
- Black dial-face telephones (no voicemail)
- No PCs (Lotus 123 came later on shared PCs, "green-on-black")
- Ledger paper
- An actual secretary
- Doing a lot of work by hand.
I have spent a great deal of time in the last 10 years bringing major changes to peoples' work days and work processes. (Several times I have also managed the change processes for them.) I recall one time talking with other team members on a project regarding the difficulties our clients were having with the coming changes. A fellow project leader remarked that the type of work we and our clients were doing was not related to "life-and-death", so why was changing it such a big deal? Why was changing the way they did their work (even for the better) so difficult?
On another project, we were changing the way most of the people in the company did their work. One of my team members got a copy of a car manufacturer's poster that read, "We're Changing Everything." It was true. And a lot of people were not happy about it.
Sometimes technological changes happen so quickly that it's overwhelming. I can even find myself being unhappy about business change and longing for a time when things were simpler. But do I really understand what life was like, especially "before my time"?
I have copies of the memoirs of my maternal great-great-great grandfather. Originally I thought he was a farmer who led a simple life. However, upon reading his memoirs, I found that he initiated many changes in his professional life. He owned and sold 3 general stores, 2 restaurants, and a funeral home, he was a farmer, and he lived out the balance of his life in Ludington, Michigan where his children and grandchildren worked his farm while he made violins and played his own violin for the music-starved farmer's families. I have 2 of his family Bibles, one in which he recorded births, marriages, and deaths. Poignantly, the deaths of several young children are recorded in its pages, reminding me of the frailty of life in that "simpler" time.
I know several people in career transition who have business cards to hand out at networking events. You can order free business cards from www.vistaprint.com (you pay for shipping, which is less than $10). At VistaPrint, you choose a design from their "free cards" selection, choose where to put your text, and they ship you the cards. Most people enter the minimum information: name, phone number, and e-mail address. Many people include a title or area of work (i.e. Chief Financial Officer; Technical Project Manager; Human Resources Executive), an address, and/or a fax number. The corporate designs are professional, the cards are made of a normal weight card stock, and VistaPrint puts their name on the back of the card in small print.
Change can be hard to swallow, especially when we don't choose it. But does change really have to make us choke? In business, change can really work to our benefit. Here are 4 reasons why change is good:
- Change keeps us from getting into a rut.
I don't know about you, but I can get into a nice, comfortable, professional rut quite easily. Changes to my work, in nearly any manner, can keep me from that rut.
- Change can bring out a talent in us we never knew we had.
For a large implementation project, I once led a train-the-trainer class with people who were chosen by their managers. Prior to the class, I noticed one of the women was reserved, and when she spoke (which was infrequently) her voice was soft and high. When it was her turn to practice in front of the class with the trainer exercises, however, her voice was clear and strong, plus she could really teach! I encouraged her to consider being a professional trainer. Whether change leads us to gain computer skills, management skills, or confidence in front of a group, using changes implemented at work to develop a skill or talent can be very beneficial to your career.
- Change can introduce us to new opportunities we had not considered possible. I know people who never thought they would be good at something outside of their given profession. But when faced with unplanned change, they chose to accept it as an opportunity. The result was either a new sub-set of work in their given field, an application of their field to another field, or an entirely new area of work.
- Change can put us in situations where we will meet people who can help us reach a new level professionally.
I enjoy meeting new people and I have to admit that during my "in-a-rut years" I did not meet many new people professionally. I think that set me back a lot. Being in places where I can meet others who can help me affect change in my own professional life has made a big difference. Some people challenged me to reach higher and to be stronger, others pointed me toward resources I needed, and others introduced me to people they thought I should meet.
Change is good. Embrace it.
I appreciate your thoughts in response.
Glory Borgeson, President
© 2002 Borgeson Consulting, Inc.