How to avoid change fatigue – All businesses know that ‘change is a constant’ – but where it presents an endless series of seemingly-disparate projects, fatigue can set in. Any manager who has experienced a carousel of internal change initiatives will know about the outcomes of stress, lowered performance and plummeting commitment.
Where change appears to be ad-hoc, reactive or simply for change’s sake (for example, if senior leaders turnover regularly) then there is a real risk that employees will become passive, disengaged and ultimately burned out. This is change fatigue. For any organisation that recognises the absolute value of an engaged, passionate and high-performing workforce, this prospect will be a sobering one.
What causes change fatigue?
There are three primary situations which lead to change fatigue in an organisation:
1. Where changes are implemented but benefits never materialise
2. Where internal change projects always require more work of employees
3. Where change becomes perpetual, reactive and there is never time to pause, assess progress and celebrate success with tangible recognition and reward
Even where employees don’t immediately appear to be resigned and disengaged, a barrage of change initiatives can simply create an increase in staff turnover and change survivors alike. This term, coined by Jeanie Daniel Duck, applies to employees who simply become good at navigating change at a superficial level, without really changing anything at all.
In short, get your change initiatives wrong and you will waste budget, lose good staff, see performance drop and feel the bottom line effects. So how can you get it right?
How to avoid change fatigue
Every organisation has the opportunity to get change right by planning it and delivering it according to a best practice methodology.
1. It is vital to be a learning organisation
Know that the world is changing, so ensure your leaders are striving to keep ahead of the curve. Know that it will never be possible to ‘win’ when it comes to change – and communicate this understanding widely. This will remove a sense of expectation that change projects are standalone initiatives, rather than a well-managed approach to a flexible, agile organisation.
2. Be visibly appreciative of all past efforts, before forging the future
If your people feel that their previous work is being criticised, they will switch off, become defensive and disengage with further change. Honour what they did in the past, and then challenge them to take it further – empowering, supporting and resourcing them to do this as necessary.
3. Listen to customers and respond to feedback as part of a regular feedback loop
Don’t knee-jerk into action on the back of all customer feedback, but use it as a valuable input into your ongoing change processes.
4. Embrace continuous improvement rather than change
Align your business to the goals of continuous improvement. Be happy and grateful with what your organisation achieves and share this recognition and thanks daily – but always set the bar higher, celebrating success as your go.
5. Measure results in a clear, objective way and share them widely
6. Be open and honest about failures and learning points
Great leaders are never afraid to show weakness or error, but will always show that they learn from them and use failure as a springboard for greater innovation.
7. Recognise great work to continuously improve and celebrate its results
Extend that celebration to everyone who participated – not just those who got the last step in the innovation process right!
8. Use an ongoing business strategy system
A balanced scorecard will keep a holistic, comprehensive view of your organisation and to anchor your initiatives in a solid, academically proven methodology that will help you guide the business forwards.
The value of using a system
There are different change management techniques, theories and systems in existence, and one of the best known is the Balanced Scorecard methodology. This globally-recognised holistic systems helps to align the big ticket strategy elements of mission, vision, core values and strategic focus, with operational drivers such as objectives, KPIs and projects.
When applied thoroughly across the business, the Balanced Scorecard methodology will help organisations to better plan and manage their strategic change initiatives. It helps leaders to better communicate with the organisation, supports managers to prioritise work against strategic drivers and helps decision makers to see the data upon which they need to predicate decisions and measure progress.
The value of strategy management tools
For organisations that follow a structured, recognised quality approach to change management such as the Balanced Scorecard method, there are several advantages to using a strategy management tool such as Quickscore. This software will help to automate your change management work processes by:
Providing structure and rigour as your implement your Balanced Scorecard approach
Providing meaningful MI and change control for your management team, by transforming corporate data into analytics that align with your business goals and values.
Supporting change management communication initiatives
Assisting with the decision-making process, by providing managers with real-time, rich data.
So the next time you start to talk about ‘change initiatives’ in your senior leadership team meeting, reframe the conversation away from a series of disparate, endless projects, to a more meaningful discussion about how you can adopt a continuous improvement culture and a business strategy methodology that helps you to guide every effort in a single direction – with a laser-focused determination to succeed.