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7 Ways to Thrive In a Turbulent Workplace

When your job is nuts, these strategies can help you handle the stress

By Beverly Jones

(This article originally appeared on

Many companies and industries these days are going through massive change and upheaval. If you work at one, you could find it unsettling — even frightening.

To survive and thrive in the midst of transition, try these seven tips for steering a steady career course when times get stormy:

1. Know it’s not about you. Institutional change is like stormy weather. It’s pouring everywhere, not just on you. Complaining won’t help and bitterness can make your situation worse.

It’s vital to your survival that you look at the big picture and let go of any anger at finding yourself in a game you didn’t sign up for.

(MORE: Keys to Happiness at Work)

2. Understand what’s happening in your industry and its environment. A client of mine (I’ll call her “Betty”) who works at a company in upheaval has managed to keep landing on her feet through mergers, division liquidations and realignments because she has put in the time to understand her company’s business.

Betty knows a lot about its competitors; she’s alert to the needs and interests of its customers and she’s well informed about broader regulatory and economic developments. By thinking like a CEO, she can spot the trends and be ready when the next wave hits.

3. Know your bosses’ goals. Your longtime supervisor may fondly recall your contributions from a few years back, but that may not be enough to save you when the going gets tough. Your most valued colleagues are the ones solving today’s problems and contributing to the achievement of tomorrow’s goals.

If you want to do well this year, be sure you understand your bosses’ big objectives. Ask yourself: what does my employer need in order to be successful?  And are there more ways I can help it succeed?

(MORE: Unconventional Career Advice You Need to Hear)

4. Network! Network! Network! One reason Betty does so well is because she is so well connected. Whether you are looking for a new job or a new idea at your current job, your position will be stronger if you have a wide circle of professional acquaintances.

Join industry groups, volunteer for projects and find other ways to get to know people throughout your organization and beyond it.

5. Find stability in other places. If the constant state of change at work is getting you down, find people and communities you can rely on in other aspects of your life.


Betty can be a bit of a workaholic, but she’s smart about building a balanced life. She is active in her church, works hard to stay connected with friends and finds time to visit family members scattered across the country.

Betty has created structures in her life that give her a place to rest when everything at work seems crazy.

(MORE: Stress and the Human Heart)

6. Be in great shape. Let’s face it: change can be exhausting. When the world seems to be shifting, it takes extra energy just to get through the week.

Working around the clock might be necessary in an emergency, but it’s a shortsighted strategy when transition is the new normal — you need sustained energy for the long haul.

A regular fitness routine and getting enough sleep are critical to strong performance during turbulent times on the job.

7. Reduce financial pressures. One thing that has helped Betty keep this job and earlier ones is that she has never become desperate at the thought of losing one. Although she dreamed of buying a larger home, she instead kept the small one and invested her savings in rental properties.

When times are uncertain, do what it takes to build up your rainy day fund or alternative income sources.

You’ll sleep better at night and have an easier time at work during the day.

Beverly Jones is a leadership and transitions coach who runs Clearways Consulting in Washington, D.C., and Rappahannock County, Va. She is the author of "Find Your Happy at Work" and was formerly a lawyer representing energy clients, universities and nonprofits. Read More
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