You know that I have a lot of kids. But what you may not know is that our family went through a major change last year—their mom and I got a divorce. And so … like a construction project sometimes riddled with uncertainty … we each have a choice about how we are going to adjust to change. But let me first tell you a story. Yesterday was the first morning in 18 years that I woke up without my kids in their beds anxious to get up to open their stockings and presents. Here is how I handled it:
Why is change so difficult? As a construction attorney for over twenty years, I have realized that the industry is always in a state of flux. During strong economic times, I have a lot more contract drafting and project administration work. During hard economic times, I have a lot more construction litigation and mechanic’s liens. I’ve learned to adjust to the circumstances to meet the needs of my clients.
Whether you are dealing with a new safety policy on the site, a difficult personality on the design team, an estimate error that is going to affect the bottom line, or even a change in your family dynamics, here are a few things you can do to adapt to change:
- Understand that change is going to happen. Whether you are talking about your professional career or your personal life, there will be change. You can count on it. I can guarantee it. Most of the time, those people who fail to recognize change have the hardest time adjusting to it.
- Understand that change and your responses will come in stages. Consider a fatal workplace accident. Undoubtedly, your construction company will go through numerous changes in response to this incident, including the initial shock of the accident, feelings of potential guilt, assessment of safety measures, analysis of liability, and the transition of duties and potential change in policies. Change of any sort comes in stages.
- Understand that communication leads to success. Communications is always important, but it is especially important when you face change. Practically speaking, you need as much information about the change as possible, so that you can make an intelligent decision. Talk to your boss, your boss’s boss, and your co-workers to get their understanding of the situation. Be honest in all your discussions and deal with the problems when they arise.
- Understand that flexibility is good. Change requires flexibility and the ability to adapt. The better able you are to respond to change, the more likely you will succeed. Make an assessment of the situation, identify potential outcomes, plan and develop a response strategy, and then begin to ride the wave. Maybe your current job isn’t what you expect? Perhaps the new workplace policy strains the ingenuity of your employees? Try to be flexible with an understanding of the potential outcomes. Part of the fear of change often involves dealing with the unknown.
In my situation, communication and flexibility on everyone’s part has enabled a good transition. I love my kids and would do anything for them, which may include building a fireplace on the side of the interstate so they can get their stockings on Christmas morning! Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!