Turmoil and change: How to take control

Turmoil and change: How to take control

Many of us are in the middle of a tumultuous time at work due to staff turnover and strategic changes at an organisational level. In this situation, it can be tempting to think you need to leave to retain control. Before you do this, take a moment to stop and think. 

Key takeaways

  • Taking control does not always mean leaving
  • Pause and observe dynamics before making a decision
  • If you do stay, look for strategic opportunities

Half my team has left. Everything’s changing. Shall I leave too?

If you’re feeling this way then you’re not alone – it’s a dilemma we’re hearing from many clients right now, and for good reason. We’re back in the swing of work after the holiday period, and change is all around us. Last year’s buoyant job market and resulting turnover has left many teams looking very different. 

In addition, a lot of industries are switching up their organisational strategies as inflation pushes up the cost of doing business – in tech, the reset to longer term profitability has already flowed through to restructuring.  

As a result, plenty of people have been thinking about looking for a new job, worried about their influence and being valued, now their network of internal champions has been depleted and our working environment altered.

If you’re in this situation, then remember that the question of whether to leave or not, is a perfectly valid one that stems from an instinct to take control of an uncertain situation. 

There’s nothing wrong with this instinct – leaving can be the right option in some circumstances, and of course carrying on regardless of what’s going on around you is not the answer either.  It’s just that leaving isn’t the only way to seize control of a situation. It may be better to stay and take advantage of change.

The key is to be patient, look at the elements in play and then find the right path forward.

Three questions to help you decide

Before you launch headlong into a job search, sit down and really think about whether staying at your current job could have more potential than going elsewhere.  An honest look at your situation begins with the following questions.

1. What are your organisation’s current objectives, and can/do you align with them?

 As mentioned earlier, change is being driven not just by people leaving but external economic factors. This might already be flowing through to fiscal tightening in your company, changes in strategic direction and some projects getting paused or cancelled. Does your company still align with what you can offer?

2. In this environment, can you add value?

Although Australia is in a ‘will we won’t we’ stage as far as a recession goes, future-proofing your career is still a crucial consideration. The last few months have been a very buoyant job market, but employment data is already hinting that this might be steadying. Now is the time to ensure you’re adding value in your current role and work out how closely aligned your position is to the organisation’s strategic objectives.

3. Do decision-makers value my opinion?

One of the worst situations to get stuck in is not being valued. Yes, there’s a certain amount you can do to influence people’s opinion of you, but sometimes, sadly, there’s no way to change an entrenched view. If you’re not valued, it’s not always down to you – but the crucial skill is to be able to recognise whether decision makers view you as an integral member of the team or not and let it inform your decision.

Finding opportunity in change

If you do decide to stay in your current role, be aware that all the drivers for you considering a change in the first place will still be there. You need to take action to resolve them yourself through strategic thinking. If you pay attention to what’s happening around you, then you may be able to seize opportunities in the midst of change. 

For example, as mentioned above, one of the biggest factors in people wanting to find a new job after a period of change is that feeling of losing networks. 

Instead, try to focus on rebuilding these connections. How can you gain the trust of new people, and be able to influence them? How can you listen and read the room? What dynamics are at play in the new working environment and how can you fit in with them? 

Because in actual fact, your ability to move up in an organisation, especially through more senior levels of management, is dependent on an ability to connect, influence and get things done. 

Navigating times of change can be exhausting and difficult, however, with some groundwork it can be a big opportunity to take your career where you want it to go. Seize control – but do it in a way that’s right for you.

Andrea has spent over 25 years working with organisations, leaders and employees at every stage of a business and career life cycle. She has created positive impact for organisations through her work with executives, leadership teams, and diverse functional teams within the arts, education, government and media organisations as examples. With over 15 years experience within career development and coaching, her direct knowledge of individuals fears and challenges and insights across a broad spectrum of sectors and organisations, creates a unique understanding of what employees need to thrive.