Thriving Through Change at 3M
Mar 9, 2020

Whether you’re seeking a shift in your career or it’s presented to you, change is an inevitable part of personal and professional growth. Change feels different for everyone. Some may be excited, some may be worried, others may not want change at all. But no matter how you feel about it, here are seven tips for surviving and thriving through change, told by 3Mers who have lived it.

Overcome imposter syndrome

Remember to have confidence in yourself. Alessandra Chiareli has been through 10 job changes at 3M in 25 years, including positions in research and development, business development and her current role as the global super user network lead for Workforce Readiness. Earlier in her career, those shifts were met with feelings of imposter syndrome, aka self-doubt and insecurity despite proven success. “As I went through more and more transitions, I knew I could trust myself to learn,” she said. “I encourage others to be patient and trust that your potential will rise to the challenge.”

Building that confidence comes down to connecting with your “purpose, passions, unique strengths, and experiences. It’s about understanding the value that you bring,” added Scott Morris, 3M global diversity and inclusion initiatives strategist, who’s been in 15 roles at 3M in nearly 32 years. “This approach empowers someone who’s dealing with change to have the confidence to be agile and unleash their full potential.”

Adjust your mindset

When it comes to change, the right attitude can make all the difference in your personal and professional life. “A fixed mindset is about proving myself, while a growth mindset is about improving myself,” said Jennifer Yi, 3M’s global technical director in the Advanced Materials Division. In her 19-year-long 3M career, Jennifer has worked across several of 3M’s business groups in product development, technical marketing, front end innovation marketing, lean six sigma and technical management.

“Each new experience is an opportunity to learn, grow and improve myself; whether I chose the change, or a leader asked me to change or take on a new assignment.”

Lean on others for support

Seek out learning opportunities and support from people you respect, especially when you’re going through a time of transition. At 3M, we connect employees with conferences, courses, informational interviews and mentorships — both formal and informal — to remind them that it’s OK to ask for help when needed. Alessandra called it a “virtuous cycle of people helping me so I can help them.” She attributed a pivot in her career from Six Sigma Coach to international business development manager to mentoring she received in 2004.

Lead as a change agent

Change isn’t always a choice. “Learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable is important,” Jennifer said, adding that positivity can have a big impact on morale for you and your team. “The ability to be a ‘change agent’ in the midst of change launches the team and the business into a completely new mindset and framework. This enables the whole organization to come out of the change stronger than when they started.”

Additionally, drawing from past work experiences can help you think differently, improve processes and become more agile when completing a project or taking on a new challenge.

Expand your network

Gaining different perspectives beyond your immediate circle allows you to stay fresh, informed, on your toes and entertain new ways of thinking — something Scott has experienced through extensive global business travel during his career.

“Seek and value diverse networks because it broadens your mindset, creativity and ability to deliver disruptive value for your teams, department or business group”, he said. “The texture and depth of the network can impact your ability to influence and embrace change beyond measure.”

Challenge the status quo

Jennifer recalled a time she and her team challenged their own status quo in order to make a seemingly impossible situation possible. They approached this high-stakes challenge with a completely different mindset and ultimately innovated a completely different technical solution to win in the marketplace.

“It’s like if you’re a musician who has always been trained as a violinist but what you need is something that has more percussion as opposed to strings; you pivot and go figure out how to play the drums, because that’s what’s needed to ‘win’,” she said. “That experience changed me because it redefined what is possible. Coming out of that challenge I truly believe there are more things that are possible than we realize.”

When you're new to a role, take advantage of your fresh perspective to add value by doing things differently, when the change is needed.

Take care of yourself

This is a lesson Alessandra learned the hard way when, during a meeting in 2014, she began having heart palpitations which led to an emergency room visit. The cause was diagnosed as combination of stress and not enough sleep due to high work and life demands. “The doctor told me I could either try medication or meditation,” she recalled. She chose the latter and also committed to getting more sleep by prioritizing what was most important on her to-do list. After two months, the palpations disappeared but her passion for sharing the practice with others did not.

Today, more than 1,200 3Mers worldwide connect through 3M Inspire Special Interest Group, which promotes mindful self-awareness as a vital aspect of effective leadership. Alessandra is a steering team member. “You need to learn to prioritize what’s most important, have good boundaries and learn self-care so that you can be here in the long run to help others even more.”

Interested in working for a company that offers a variety of career paths across industries? Learn more about a career at 3M by visiting

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