Change is a word that strikes fear into the heart of many. Change at work can be especially stressful when it threatens job security. Are rumours circulating throughout your workplace about some sort of change? Is there talk of a merger, downsizing or redundancies? Are you scared and don’t know what to do? With the hard economic climate affecting most businesses changes to the workforce are inevitable and invariably this means that you can expect changes to your job role, management structure and in some cases an actual change to your employment status.

So what can you do? Most of us fear change because it makes us feel out of control. One day everything seems fine and then we are dropped head-first into the unknown – we fear what we will lose and what we will be forced to give up because of it.

We all deal with change differently; some people prefer to ignore change occurring around them believing that all will turn out for the best if they ignore what’s happening. This is one tactic but if you want to have some influence over your situation a better strategy would be to gather as much factual information about what’s happening and start facing reality as early as possible so that you can access your options.

Change is like a juggernaut it’s virtually unstoppable – you can’t stop change BUT you can decide to take control of your own personal situation. Let’s remember too, that change is not always bad. Quite often change in the workplace can be a catalyst for movement. Movement can create positive challenges to out dated management thinking creating new job roles and opportunities for promotion.

Periods of change at work can also give you the impetuous to assess your career goals and motivate you to find an organisation with the career prospects you really want.

Here are a few simple tips to help you manage change and help you feel more in control of your situation:

Get your information from trusted sources

In order to make informed decisions you’ll need to get your information from trusted sources – this means avoiding the office rumour mill. Depending on the size of your organisation there may be some form of official channels of communication. However you’ll need to understand how these changes affect your department’s goals and objectives. If your department looks to be under threat you need to understand this early on so you can make an assessment of your options. Draw up a list of questions and schedule a meeting with your manager as early as possible and then reschedule another meeting to discuss any solutions. If your manager has little or no helpful information as them to follow up your concerns at a higher level or ask to be referred to someone who is in a better position to help you. Information blackouts can be damaging to both the organisation and to the individuals – things may not be as bad as they appear but without information you won’t know – so don’t be afraid to ask for more information.

Make a personal plan

Taking a long, hard look at your whole life at the point of a major change at work can be overwhelming. However, taking time out to make a personal plan which should include mapping out your financial position over the next few months will help you to identify potential problems early. Now is the time to tighten your belt and try to get a handle on the interest rates you’re currently paying. Are you in debt? Can you pay off some of your debt right away? If you have a credit card can you transfer to another, lower rate credit card? Are you are in line for a redundancy payout? Have you planned out the best way to utilise your money?

Take a week off

Yes that’s right. If your work place is awash with anxiety and negativity during this transition period -take a week off from work as holiday. You don’t necessarily need to go away from home but you do need to clear your head so you can face the reality of your situation and make some plans. During this time take a couple of days to completely relax and then spend the rest of the time making a career plan of who you need to contact and update your CV

Check out your interview wear

Although going on a shopping spree to cheer yourself is not a good idea but do take some time to assess whether your interview wardrobe up to scratch. It may be necessary to invest in another outfit or accessories to up date the look especially if you haven’t attended an interview for a while.

Do you know what benefits at work you’re entitled to?

Take the time now to ask the Human Resources department what benefits you’re currently enrolled in. If you have health insurance, be sure to get medical tests done now to make use of this benefit. Take advantage of any dental or eye care cover you may have. Now is the time to get those eyeglasses or contact lenses updated or schedule a check-up at the dentist. Use it or lose it. It’s better to investigate now so you don’t end up paying the full price later

Being aware of the situation, planning and taking action makes you feel more in control of your life. Ok so you can’t do anything about being laid-off and in most cases, (unless you committed gross misconduct on the job) it’s not your fault. It’s a management decision that will probably end up changing your life for the better. See this as a new opportunity, not as a loss, and your positive attitude will help you get through the challenges and move ahead with renewed confidence.