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5 Strategies to Prevent Change Fatigue from Impacting your Team

Think about all the changes you and your employees have been through over the last few years. Between dealing with Covid, adapting to working from home, changing technologies, and operating models, plus culture shifts and the arrival of new executives with their own ideas and strategies, it’s no wonder that everyone is experiencing change fatigue.

And if there’s one thing that has become clear over the past few years, it’s that change is not going to slow down or stop. But as humans, we have a strong desire for certainty and control. So, when change is announced within organizations – from new policies and operating models to new values or org structure changes – it immediately causes a sense of “unknown,” and forces us to take a step outside of our comfort zone.

But leaders can’t wait for change fatigue to fade to move the business forward. Instead, they must act quickly to prevent burnout and stress, and prepare their team for what’s around the corner.

So how can you, as a leader, help your team overcome change fatigue?

It starts with resilience, but leaders must also tackle change fatigue at the organizational level. Here are five strategies to help you get started:

1. Involve employees from the start. Change initiatives will only succeed if people feel like the change is being done with them vs. to them. To start, make sure you include employees from the beginning and give them a role in implementing the change. This will create a sense of ownership, which will likely aid in increasing engagement. It’s also important to give employees time to adapt and make choices, which will cause them to feel in control – and will make the change more likely to succeed.

2. Communicate early. Our brains are hardwired to recognize patterns – familiar challenges or situations don’t require our brain to use much effort. However, when facing the unknown, our brain begins to consider all potential threats and outcomes. This is when rumors start, trust diminishes, and additional layers of concern and confusion build-up. To avoid this, communicate clearly, often and honestly. This will build trust with your employees and create certainty. Make sure leaders are equipped to lead follow-up conversations with their teams to voice concerns, share ideas and ask questions.

3. Show empathy and compassion. Employees are much more receptive to change if leaders show that they have their best interest in mind and understand and consider the impacts the change might impose. Truly wanting to understand your employees, what they experience and what they need to adapt to the change can be a truly uplifting experience. Showing empathy and compassion also has positive effects on innovation, engagement, retention and inclusivity.

4. Create certainty by fostering a sense of belonging. Make your employees feel part of a collective by focusing on building connections within the team, recognizing and celebrating team and individual successes and showing appreciation. This will foster strong team cohesion and the feeling of “we are in this together.” You can also implement team rituals, such as weekly stand ups or monthly team gatherings. Studies have shown that rituals are a powerful way to feel more in control and reduce stress levels.

5. Create a collective direction. Reinforce the companies’ vision, purpose and values or co-create them if they aren’t fully in place yet. Employees will react much more positively to change if they can see the opportunities and understand what it means for them, the larger benefits, and the future direction of the organization. By clearly articulating this and relaying the impact of the change, you will create a reason to believe in what’s to come.

When your next major transformation is announced, remember that by incorporating and embedding these strategies into the day-to-day processes of your organization, you will be able to successfully combat change fatigue – showing resiliency in the face of the unknown and avoiding frustration, stress, and burnout.

 

Jessica is a Senior Consultant at Daggerwing Group. She is passionate about the human element of change and about driving, motivating, and engaging employees through organizational transformations. Jessica has been supporting various clients in driving employee engagement, embedding continuous improvement mindsets, creating lasting learning & development experiences, and improving employee technology adoption through delivering and measuring a creative campaign.
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