3 Tips To Help Small Business Battle Change Fatigue
How much adjustment can employees manage before experiencing change fatigue or burnout? According to research conducted by Kotter International, more than 70% of organizational change strategies fail, this leads to a lower success probability.
Companies utilizing change management strategies where leadership decrees when and how to change has failed time and again. But unfortunately, it remains the most predominant method. A better way is adopting change leadership, and this is an open source methodology where employees and direction of an organization share a shared vision of the future and are engaged together in action. This latter approach can improve employee retention and productivity by 58%.
The following three tips will help your company transfer from change management to change leadership which will effectively combat fatigue:
1. Never underestimate the room required for change
Neuroscience studies show that a majority of employees have three hours of peak mental performance every day, this is their most productive period. This entire period is used for role-specific responsibilities and tasks. When employees experience change, it can cut into how they function mentally. This finding was further corroborated by McKinsey research studies which found employees spend 60% of their time on non-role specific tasks like answering queries and emails.
So if there are only three hours for role-specific tasks and five hours for non-role specific tasks, there is no extra room for change. The problem is, many businesses expect to lay on change efforts on top of regular responsibilities; meaning employees need to work at their pace while learning new methods. This strategy leads to stress, reduced work performance, increased mistakes and fatigue.
The solution is dynamic prioritization. Identify the room needed for change and offload this work from team members to explain it instead of layering change activities onto daily tasks.
Think about what you can de-prioritize? What can you do to lighten people’s workload so that change is possible? While implementing a change, expect a slight dip in productivity, this is normal and will undoubtedly give you dividends in the end.
2. Communication involves ‘active listening’ and not only ‘telling.’
Gallup’s 2017 State of The American Workplace reports that only 13% of employees feel their leadership engages in effective communication. If employees are not informed about why changes are implemented, where they will lead them or how realistic they are, they will resist change. Effective communication leads to better understanding and better on-boarding.
However, the biggest issue is leaders are focused on when and how employees should change instead of also listening to what their team members have to say about it. Communication in this method is happening on a one-way street, and this will eventually damage morale and reduce engagement and motivation, leading drops in productivity. Careful messaging is the solution. Take time out to address why changes are occurring and what employees should expect, how priorities might shift and what steps employees can take to prepare themselves better.
Share this in multiple ways and times. Introduce it via an email, then through internal communication tools, group meetings, interactive Q & A sessions, etc. Don’t forget to check for comprehension. Rely on middle managers, peer advocates, and internal feedback surveys, questionnaires, etc.
Ask questions like:
Why are changes being implemented?
What is the company’s vision?
How can you get ready?
How might it affect you?
Follow suit, analyze results, build commitment, respond to queries and feedback and incorporate this feedback into the action plan. Effective communication always includes sharing, active listening and acclimatizing.
3. Recognize change won’t occur at the same pace for everyone
The ability to change and adjust to changing market conditions is necessary for the business’s survival. Most employees understand this and are willing to adapt to support their company’s changes. Studies conducted by CEB found that 74% of employees are supportive of change efforts and 64% of them have the skills to make this change happen. However, despite having the skills and abilities and willingness to adopt change, 25% of them can follow through.
The concern stems from leadership who is usually focused on the initial stages of the change plan instead of in the support and execution stages, this, unfortunately, leads to time and energy being spent on on-boarding reluctant employees.
Peer accountability is the solution. Social learning theory states that people learn best by observing others. When we model our attitudes and behaviors, we modify those of others around us. If leaders focused more of their attention and time on the early adopters rather than the resistors, they would be able to leverage the former group’s behaviors and attitudes in the on-boarding process.
Project management tools that gather feedback, schedule check-ins and track goals and progress can prove useful in battling change fatigue. ViduPm can help!