dealing with change as an assistant

How Assistants Can Adapt to Change

A natural reaction to change is fear of the unknown. Many assistants would much rather stay in their comfort zones where they feel safe and secure. However, change is a must if we want to grow in our careers, in our relationships, and as a person. While the thought of it may seem challenging, change can be rewarding.

In this Riding the Wave of Change blog for assistants, we are going to cover:

  • The two kinds of change.
  • Resisting change as an assistant.
  • Preparing for change.

And much more!

At the end of this blog, there is a helpful video that goes into detail on each of the steps above. If you are ready to better yourself and your career as an assistant, read on.

Two Changes Assistants Experience

Basically, there are two common kinds of change: planned change and reactive change.

Reactive Change
Changes that take place in response to an event or a chain of various events.

Example: A new president recently came on board at a college where I (Joan Burge) was conducting a workshop on change. Naturally, this new president had different ideas from the previous president and new ways of doing things to improve efficiency and revenue. Though the changes were good, the employees were grieving the loss of the old familiar ways as they labored through the painful birth of the strange new processes the president wanted to implement.

Planned Change
Developmental change is implemented with the objective of improving the present ways of operation and to achieve the pre-defined goals.

Example: I (Joan Burge) experienced this when I went from being an employee for twenty years to be president of my own business. I had to let go of certain old traits and behaviors in order for a new, better self to be born. This truly is a painful process but one that must not hold us back from becoming better than we are today.

Resisting Change – One of the Leading Causes of Inefficiencies

We all have comfort zones – certain places, things, and people that make us feel safe and warm.

Change puts you in situations or mental places that are not necessarily comfortable. It forces you to stretch which may cause you to resist. While embracing change can sometimes be a challenge, it can help you progress in your career, develop new skills, and personality traits.

Oftentimes when I teach, I will hear “That is how I have been doing it for X amount of years.” It’s easier to stick with what we know instead of changing methods out of fear.

Unfortunately, that mentality does more harm than good. You can have decades’ worth of experience and still be behind the curve.

If you are not embracing new technologies that provide efficiencies, keeping up with the latest certifications, and challenging yourself, you are doing yourself a disservice.

The assistants who are resilient and quick to adapt are usually the same ones who have learned to work in tandem with their leaders, effectively manage their tasks, and have found ways to properly communicate with their colleagues to promote change in the office.

If you have not discovered those benefits, but would like to, the section below features specific strategies to help you cope and ride the wave of change.

Preparing for Change

You may find that some strategies work better than others depending on the particular situation.

As you go through change, if you can tell yourself that you are just stretching, you will be more optimistic about what is to come.


  • Guess where things are going if you can.
  • Keep your ears and eyes open.
  • Know what is going on around you at work, in your community, with your family.


  • Gather relevant information.
  • Stay informed.
  • Make specific plans for the upcoming changes so you feel more in control.
  • Be active, not passive.


  • Imagine yourself in a new situation.
  • Look for the good. With change comes both danger and opportunity.
  • See both but focus on the opportunity.

Accept the change

  • Don’t fight change that is inevitable.
  • Be flexible.
    Get on with your life; don’t procrastinate.
  • Do something that makes you feel good, something that gives you a sense of achievement.
  • Learn to adapt as quickly as you can.

Get Support

  • Share your feelings with a trusted friend or family member, someone who will let you cry or laugh, and who will listen.
  • People can’t always give you the answers, but if they really listen, sometimes that is help enough.
  • Look for someone who will encourage you, who can lift you up, inspire you, and spur you on.
  • Read inspirational and motivational materials.
  • Listen to audiotapes regularly and attend seminars and workshops that will educate and inspire.
  • Seek spiritual support.

Unpredictable situations that dramatically impact the workplace, affect productivity, and communication, will occur. Our Survival Tactics Series for Administrative Professionals During Chaotic Times webinar provides actionable information for common workplace situations you will encounter as an assistant. Through it you will learn:

  • How to Embrace a Warrior Mindset
  • Work in Tandem with Your Leader
  • Timely and Effective Communications
  • How to Be Resilient During Turbulent Times
  • How to Ride the Wave of Change
  • Self-Management and Personal Care



Joan Burge


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3 thoughts on “How Assistants Can Adapt to Change”

  1. Debbie Bridge, CAP, OM, MOS

    I learned many years ago, change is always present. Sometimes we are aware of the changes coming and other times we are not. I have learned to be adoptable and give every change a chance. When a change occurs and other are negative about it, I usually say to myself and them, “Change is Good,” and “give it a chance”. We may have additional helpful information to add to that change . Be a part of the change and it will not be that hard to accept.

  2. I have learned that change is normal in the workplace, and with almost 20 years of experience in the AA profession, I have learned to embrace it and look for the opportunities in change. In my experience, often times, it’s ends up not being as bad or negative as I may have initially thought. Maybe it’s learning a new software program or skills to add to your resume or meeting new staff who might be a connection to your next job. Change is inevitable, so it’s best to try to do as much as you can to be proactive and accept it as part of life.

  3. I think part of adapting to change is learning to be gentle with yourself. Reward yourself for learning new things, even small things, and give yourself the latitude to take baby steps toward new ways of thinking and doing. I’ve been in this field for 30+ years and change is just part of the journey for me now. But it wasn’t always that way. I’ve learned to “go with the flow” now, and roll with the punches. But I do still reward myself when I adapt and learn a new way of doing something.

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