Ombuds' Corner: A change in your career? Drive it yourself!

Contracts come to an end, projects move from one phase to another, hierarchy changes… in the 21st century, things have the tendency to move very quickly in the work environment. Although no change comes without a large dose of stress, the key is to see it as an opportunity for professional growth – keeping in mind that in every end there is a new beginning.


Life is full of changes, it’s inevitable. However, rather than just going with the flow, it is good to see change coming and drive the transition ourselves. Whether a change is imposed or it is something we want, it comes with a lot of unknowns that are more easily overcome if we can anticipate them and allow ourselves time to prepare for the challenges ahead.

As nothing can remain the same forever, it is best not to bury our heads in the sand but instead to approach change proactively. Hoping for miracles or pretending change will not happen are usually good recipes for disaster. Conversely, by seeing change in a positive light, we are in a better position to take charge of our own lives, and drive the transition in a way that suits us best.

This is not to say that change comes without pain. It is important to acknowledge our own feelings, especially if they involve anger or disappointment, but we should strive not to let ourselves be overtaken by these emotions. We may not always feel ready for a change, but if we know that it is imminent, we need to come to terms with it and prepare ourselves to move on. This preparation is important even when the change is voluntary and we perceive it as a positive step.

In either case, we need to be able to ‘let go’ of the familiar, handing over responsibility to our successors in a thorough and transparent manner, without withholding information, and accepting that they will build on past achievements in their own way.

As colleagues, we all play a crucial part in helping those who are facing a change to achieve a smooth transition. It is important that they are able to complete their current responsibilities, leaving the old job without feeling pushed aside or left with nothing to do during their remaining time. While at the same time, it's important to leave them enough space to equip themselves for the new challenges ahead. Similarly, when welcoming new colleagues into our midst, we should encourage them to bring fresh ideas or ways of working to our projects, and allow them space to make their own mark.

Change is always challenging, as it requires stepping out of our comfort zone into an unfamiliar situation. It implies finding the right degree of newness that is stimulating without tipping over into a panic zone where everything seems negative and out of our control. The key lies in keeping our balance, giving ourselves the time to adjust to the change and not hesitating to ask for support, if needed.

“Life is like riding a bicycle.
To keep your balance you must keep moving.” - Albert Einstein

As a reminder, all previous Ombuds corners can be accessed in the Ombuds blog.

by Sudeshna Datta-Cockerill