Friday, October 25, 2019

Managing Change - LOTS of Change

I've done it before. I lived through the 60's, 70's, and 80's - from Pop Culture and F* the System, Disco and Drugs (not me personally, but most people around me), and - after Carter had nearly brought the economy to a standstill, the Reagan correction. During much of that time, I was working hourly jobs, or raising children - yes, we mostly did it the old-fashioned way - Mom stayed home.

By the time I re-entered the working world, I'd missed the New Working Woman changes, and worked to live, not lived to work. I always was out of step with the culture.

By happenstance, I locked into the PC revolution, and made decent money teaching corporate people how to use them in the office.

What I found is that many, if not most, had major challenges in learning to use PCs. Oh, not the interface (although 3.1 WAS clunky).

It was the fact that their job was radically changing, and most of them had major difficulties coping with the rapid changes. Those changes included:

  • Learning to use spreadsheets/databases/business applications.
  • Learning to generate the statistics, trends, and forecasts themselves, rather than turning the task over to the guys in the back room to work on.
  • Coping with floods of emails, online calendars, and CRM (Customer Relations Management) software.
  • For many men, having to do their own correspondence, rather than turn it over to a secretary.
  • Feeling out of it, when much younger workers were training them, rather than the traditional system of the elder expert passing on legacy wisdom.
The speed of commerce and business activities exploded exponentially. Rather than leisurely lunches with clients, suddenly there was pressure to work online with customers. A decision that might have taken weeks or months was expected to close within days. Salesmen were both isolated in the field (they were finding little real need to return to the office, as most of their work could be sent by computer), and tethered by constant communication with their bosses.

In schools, teachers had to master use of electronic whiteboards, online grading systems and lesson planning, and use of technology in the classroom - particularly in math and science. Much of the equipment was neither user-friendly, nor leading to reduction in teacher time at work.

Paradoxically, the many changes in both job and company I'd experienced through much of my working career has uniquely fitted me for managing the changes I am seeing now. I won't say that changes are without stress, but that stress is manageable. 

When I can, I keep to routines. It makes the changes I do have to make easier to cope with. I get my gas and coffee at the same locations. I stock up on comfort food. As far as I can manage, I eat at regular times. I have kept the same husband for 45+ years.

I used to envy my friends and acquaintances who climbed the career ladder without a hiccup. I found that my periods of unemployment and underemployment prepared me to handle upheaval, and land on my feet again, with less angst.

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