Is the term change fatigue doing more harm than good?
We all know that change is constant, especially in today’s world, where we are experiencing the fast-paced digital evolution – at work and in our personal lives. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus of Ephesus, said – “the only constant in life is change”.
I’m Michelle Wicks, Digital Transformation Specialist and Principal at Parbery. I’ve often wondered, is the term “Change Fatigue” helpful? The term “Change Fatigue” has a negative undertone and contributes to a workplace culture of doom and gloom. I believe we need to ditch the term “change fatigue” and replace it with something more positive, like “change resilience”. Change resilience is about building a culture of resilience at an organisational and individual level.
Evidence also suggests that when people are aligned and passionate about a change, they are energised, not fatigued. Harvard Business Review states, “Meaning matters more than happiness, especially when it comes to surviving in difficult circumstances.” Leading an Exhausted Workforce (hbr.org)
Organisations and leaders need to acknowledge that Change fatigue is often associated with change that is sudden, reactive, and poorly managed Navigate and Embrace Change | Simon Sinek – YouTube. From an organisational perspective, it is about having a clear investment management framework that includes planned and unplanned change initiatives, with a clear vision for changes, prioritisation and decision-making criteria that are logically sequenced and adequately resourced. This clarity sets the organisational culture up to respond confidently, especially in times of forced changes, i.e. COVID-19.
My top 5 tips to make change fatigue a thing of the past are:
- Consider an enterprise-wide investment management framework – Doing this helps prioritise work (BaU and change) and enables the focus to be on the right things at the right time with the right resources.
- Create a compelling story for people to connect to the change – Communicating the change story through words and pictures creates a more impactful and memorable vision for people to anchor to and be energised by.
- Build a learning and growth mindset culture within the workplace – A growth mindset enables individuals and organisations to be more confident, resilient and not afraid to fail. What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means – YouTube
- Value change management for all changes (big and small) – Change management isn’t a nice to have; it is a need to have. Change fatigue is rising; first tackle small everyday changes (gartner.com)
- Acknowledge and support individuals’ responses to change – Leaders know their people and how they are likely to respond. Acknowledge individuals’ responses and support them through the process. Listen to their insights and concerns and respond with empathy. Taking the Empathetic Approach to Change – TEDxSydney