Coping with change management plans without burning out

Dr Tanvi Gautam, a tranformational leadership expert, offers frameworks that can be used to manage the stress of change management programmes.
By: | April 19, 2023

 Are you leading change or being asked to implement change in your organisation? Or are you bearing the brunt of change in your organisation?

With the pandemic causing disruption in the global economy, leading to budget cuts, reassignment of portfolios, and the threat of layoffs, no organisation is not experimenting with change at some level.

While some are doing a strategy change or revisiting their business models and structure, others are looking at overhauling their culture to keep up with the demands of our times. No matter what the plan, it leads to stress and risks overwhelming and burning out everyone involved at all levels, including HR professionals and their teams.  Here are some actionable tips and strategies to upgrade the way you navigate this change that is here to stay. When faced with stress (and might I say opportunity of) change management programmes, here are some frameworks that you might find useful:

  1. Stay informed as the landscape can shift quickly

Stay up to date with company announcements and changes to better prepare for what is to come. It is easy to disconnect as soon as we start to feel defeated, but a commitment to staying present will keep you in tune with your team and benefit you in the long run. In times of change, leaders need to signal their willingness to change along with the plans.  Depending on how robust the approach of the leadership team is to change the path ahead, it may look well planned at one end but totally chaotic at the other.

Either way, you must learn to keep up with it, and it is likely you will need to help your team keep up with it as well. Mostly I find there is an ‘internal logic’ to these changes, but top leadership teams may not have adequately crafted a narrative or storyline that provides the red thread for people to grasp and follow along. 

Organisations who have spent time with me thinking and crafting the storyline of change see it as a powerful investment in building and sustaining the momentum of change but this is often not the case in other organisations. Therefore, asking questions and raising issues at the right time with the right person becomes key.

However, remember that the tone of asking for clarification is key. Sometimes, even best framed questions can be seen as pushback or dissent in a highly charged change management scenario. Your colleagues are likely to be as stressed as you are, so be mindful of the tone, the words and the intentionality being reflective of your intent to help facilitate the change.  

Create an environment of inclusivity where everyone feels heard and valued. Chances are that others are feeling overwhelmed as well. By creating a community of people who act as sounding boards to each other, you are also signalling your leadership capability in times of change. Encourage transparency by sharing information and insights across teams. More clarity on the situation reduces the stress and anxiety of the change management plans. 

  1. Link the company change management plans to your own personal change management plans

Although change can be stressful, try to see this as an opportunity to reassess your career goals and take proactive steps toward professional development. For example, if there are areas where you want to improve your skills or knowledge, seek out training opportunities. Commit to being a lifelong learner, embrace change and find opportunities for growth!

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“Although change can be stressful, try to see this as an opportunity to reassess your career goals and take proactive steps toward professional development.” – Dr Tanvi Gautam


Learn how to be resourceful and creative in finding solutions to problems. This could involve thinking outside the box, looking for unconventional solutions, or collaborating with others. When role or portfolio changes happen, it can be both unnerving and frustrating but keeping a growth mindset and keeping your own north star or purpose in view can provide you with the fuel needed to keep going till things settle down. 

I advise organisations to quickly create a learning and action map around what they need to ‘forget’, what they need to ‘learn’ and what they need to ‘bring along’ from the previous version of their role/portfolio. An intentional approach to your learning also helps you cope with the landscape better and shines a light on the gaps in your own skillset/competencies. A sense of agency and self-leadership allows one to cope with change without feeling like one is at the mercy of the situation, a factor that can be crucial for mental health. 

  1. Notice systems of care all around you

Demands on your mental, emotional, and coping capabilities are high during any change. It is also true that you are likely to pay least attention to refuelling yourself while you are navigating changes. But it does not have to be a long and complicated affair to replenish yourself. Simple acts such as going for a walk, a soothing screensaver, an inspiring quote, or listening to the sounds of animals, or the breeze in a meditation app can quickly reset our nervous systems.

Eat delicious food and think of the people who grew it or made it. Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Set aside time for relaxation and hobbies that bring you joy.  Seek support.  Reach out to colleagues, friends, or family members for emotional support. You can also seek out professional counselling or coaching if needed. You need beyond physical rest to be able to have the mental and emotional resources to carry on, particularly if you have to be the leader/face of the change.

All of this change, particularly during the impending warning of a recession, can be stressful and challenging. However, by taking a proactive approach, you take back your power. As Victor Franknel said, the ultimate freedom available to a human being is the ability to choose your response to a situation – feel free to share this with your teams, your colleagues, and friends who may be going through changes in their company. 

About the Author: Dr Tanvi Gautam is a HR influencer, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and transformational leadership expert. Join her at HR Tech Festival Asia 2023 on May 10 at 10.40am (SGT), where she will be giving a keynote address at the CHRO Symposium.  Click here to find out more about her work.