Change is an unavoidable part of everyone’s lives – at work as well as in our personal lives.As summer draws to a close, many of us will be waving our children off at the school gates for the first time, or packing them off to University. The summer nights are dwindling and our thoughts turn to Autumn – maybe even Christmas. Everyone is looking forward to getting back to the routine and familiarity of our work environment. Then the CEO tells us we’ve acquired a new organisation so there will be a restructure. The existing CRM programme is ongoing and has been quite painful, and we’ve been told we’re moving to Office 365. We’re reducing our office space so we have to give up our desks. Our phone’s been taken away and we have to learn a new way of doing something we’ve been doing the same way, for many years.
In business, continuous change is necessary. However, too many new ideas, or poorly executed change plans can be met with resistance, a lack of engagement and indifference. Otherwise known as ‘change fatigue’.
According to a 2013 survey by Katzenbach Center, about 65 percent of executives, managers and employees have experienced change fatigue. And in 2013, 77 percent of people said their organisation had reached “change saturation” (up from 59 percent in 2007), according to a benchmark study of 822 change leaders (Prosci).
Here are some tips on how to ensure change fatigue doesn’t negatively impact your programme:
1. Establish your vision
Frequently, technology projects are seen as IT-led initiatives however there is always a strategic driver, whether that’s improved efficiency, reduced time-to-market or lower costs. Aligning multiple projects to the same strategic goal helps people understand the bigger picture, rather than them feeling bombarded by multiple changes. Seek out those strategic drivers and package your change in a coherent and easily understandable way for senior leaders to cascade. Use visual tools and graphics to present multiple projects as part of a journey, reflecting the concept of ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. Read our ‘Brand versus Bland’ insight for more ideas.
2. Keep up the momentum
Share, communicate and collaborate with everyone your programme might affect. This will prevent fatigue and frustration from not being informed and having to play catch up later on. Make sure you bring everyone along for the journey with you – Excite them! As the programme progresses, publish success stories. Be brave and be clear about how you will measure success, and keep people updated on your progress. As well as focussing on what is changing, let people know what will be staying the same. This will help people stay calm and focused during a change programme. Check out our ‘What’s in it for me?’ insight for ideas on what to communicate and make sure you keep it up.
3. Involve your key people
Don’t just tell people something is happening. If people think they have no control over the changes affecting them or they don’t like them, they will feel disconnected from the project. Identify key people in the business – perhaps the most vocal, those
most affected or overwhelmed, or people who like to get involved, and ask them to help. Understand from them what changes they have experienced within the organisation previously, and what worked and didn’t work from their perspective. Include them in pilot groups, ask for feedback and turn them into advocates for your project. Make sure to Equip users with skills they need.
4. Build the right team
Often change management and communication is made the responsibility of internal staff, who might not have the required skills or time to give your programme the focus it deserves. Make sure those assigned to your programme have the capability, the capacity and above all, the passion required to deliver the change. Recognise if there are gaps in your team and find the right way to fill them.
If you found this insight useful, you might be interested in our previous insights – find them here.
Plus, don’t forget to look out for our next insight on ‘engagement’, a topic that goes hand in hand with change fatigue.
Remember change is inevitable, it just needs to be handled in the right way.