Change fatigue may or may not be a phrase that you have specifically heard of, but many businesses are experiencing near constant change and not just because of the unprecedented past year we have all experienced. The pace of change of technology was already contributing to rapid change in all areas of work. It’s little wonder people are beginning to resist yet more changes ahead.
Managing Change Fatigue
Managing change fatigue is critical if you want your business to thrive, and not be derailed every time something different is needed. Workforce resistance has been identified as one of the reasons businesses fail to implement a change fully. Maybe too many changes have been arbitrarily pushed through, maybe the workforce feel unappreciated and expected to just accept all changes to their working practices, processes or systems with little or no support.
Whatever the reason, effective and successful change can be achieved if it is handled properly. And a business that can be flexible and adapt quickly to changing conditions is a business that will grow and thrive.
A recent article in the Guardian highlighted a scheme introduced by the Ford Motor Company which discusses the value of teamwork, empowering the workforce to become actively involved in the changes that they identify as required, to drive the business forward and excel over competition. We mention this, not because the workforce should drive your organisation. Instead, it’s to highlight the benefits of gaining their interest and actively involving them in the changes that are made. This can turn the tide of fatigue into energy.
It is harder to manage change fatigue when changes have failed previously through resistance or mismanagement. You can then be faced with resistance even when clear benefits to a change can be seen. In today’s world, a business must adapt to change rapidly and willingly. Aim to create an expectation of ongoing change among employees, where the business continually seeks to evolve. This ensures change becomes a way of life rather than a forced ‘project’ that immediately raises concerns. Build up a pattern of success, no matter how small the change, and ensure that praise, recognition and celebrations highlight the importance of the people involved and shows that success brings reward.
We know that change always encounters some measure of human resistance, it is human nature. So it is important to support people through change. Just as many businesses use management coaching to help senior staff better manage the business, there are also change management coaching experts to help your business become more flexible and able to adapt when needed. Change management specialists know how to communicate the benefits of change but also, crucially, how to involve people, listen to them and allay their fears.
You may not be able to involve every single employee directly, but it is still important to set up networks and reach out to as many people as possible. A change management expert can be the link you need to manage the people involved in the project. They are external to the business so provide a neutral interface between different parts of the company. With effective change management, resistance to change will fall and cooperation and momentum increase.
We no longer live in a world where businesses can be successful by delivering the same service or product year after year. We all need to adapt to thrive.