• Supporting Staff through Times of Change – Managing Change Fatigue


    Carried on from previous post…..


    1. Communicate well

    2. Tackle change fatigue

    3. Listen to concerns

    4. Dealing with the impact on individual managers

    5. Resilience

    6. Maintaining engagement during change

    Let’s start by getting a shared understanding of what I mean by ‘change fatigue’.  Although there is some evidence to suggest that people are getting burned out from the increasing complexity, connectivity and expectations of modern society the fatigue I’m referring to here is less about the weariness type of fatigue resulting from sustain physical (or mental) activity and more about the cynicism that many employees feel towards ‘yet another change’.

    The causes of both types of fatigue are the same, lots and change at ever increasing pace and frequency and a desire for continual improvement but the way you manage these ‘fatigues’ varies quite significantly.

    For today’s post lets focus on the cynical fatigue.  Obviously your change initiative will sink or swim on the uptake of your people.  It’s fine to change systems and processes but unless you can get the people to adopt, accept or embrace the change you’re potentially on a hiding to nowhere with your initiative.  Incidentally did you know that somewhere in the vicinity of 60% of change initiatives fail to deliver the expected benefits?   The organisations that are most successful don’t necessarily try to get 100% of people on board but they do try to engage their people with the change and specifically to take on board their feedback rather than presenting the proposal as a fait accompli.  I recall one change initiative I was a participant in many years ago.  Like all change it was somewhat painful, treated with a healthy dose of scepticism, originated from on-high and being imposed.  What this process did very well though was to engage the people around the solution.  They ran numerous info sessions and one workshop in particular that I really liked.  At these sessions and again at the workshop we were presented with the immutable facts that were driving the change.  The things that had changed, that were outside of the organisations control and were non-negotiable.  This was NOT a feel good message, but the cold hard facts.  At the workshop we were provided with a scenario (based on our organisations actually situation), the constraints were explained, the available resources were disclosed, the timeframes etc.  As a group we all had to come up with solutions to ‘The Problem’.  When the final change strategy was presented we were all able to see elements of our solutions in the actual solution.  I’m almost certain that the solution was developed earlier and that the workshop was structured in such as way as to almost inevitably come up with exactly that solution (or a close approximation of it).    It is sometimes said that staff (people) don’t resist their own ideas.  While we can’t keep everyone happy all of the time (and perhaps probably shouldn’t even try) and let all staff follow their own aspirations those organisations that do engage their people and deal with the issue of change fatigue generally get better results from their change.  At least in terms of staff involvement and lets face it, some of the greatest and most unexpected solutions come from the ‘rank and file’ should they be given an opportunity to participate (see Google for the best known example of great initiatives being developed by individual staff passions).

    Key message, present the problem to your people and see what solutions they come up with.  They’re far less likely to reject something they see as their own idea (even if it’s a tough decision such as layoffs).

    Please help me to spread the word by sharing.

      Sean is an experienced coach, speaker and facilitator who is passionate about improving the relationship between people, their work and the organisations they work for. If you want to get the most out of your managers, supervisors and their teams and think that work can or should be a rewarding and enjoyable component of a productive and meaningful life it might be worth a chat.

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