More often than not, we either talk about change in a positive light (change as a needed organizational behavior in a fast and competitive market) or we talk about the means to enable change and get the best results from change management. Rarely do we speak about the other side of change, that is, Change Fatigue or what Prosci calls change saturation.
The capacity for change has a lot to do with the volume of successful change an organization has gone through, but what is really the capacity that an organization has?
It is no surprise that there is no specific formula that can be used across all organizations to come up with an average rate of Change Fatigue; after all, organizations go through singular historical circumstances and apply their individual culture to manage them. However, it also becomes pretty clear when organizations are going through saturation in their willingness to accept more change.
Before I delve into the challenges brought about by change fatigue and attempt to provide a classification for the sake of applying logic, I would like to talk briefly about why change fatigue occurs.
I often think about the leadership in an organization (group leadership or individual leadership) as an entity with political leverage. Much like a new President elect, leadership manages under the same social laws of “the honeymoon period” and “the coattail effect.” Depending on the historical knowledge, or lack of thereof, and the current circumstance of the organization, an organization will enjoy a period of belief in what it is capable of and will be able to ride on the tail effect; but it will be the specific results it accomplishes that will enable it to continue using its political leverage into the future. If political leverage is used up, hardly any changes will be accomplished.
Therefore, among the core causes of change fatigue are historical results, historical knowledge and current circumstances. The lesson here is for an organization not to use all its political leverage or change capacity by being successful at making changes through proper strategy, planning and communication.
Change fatigue challenges can be classified into three categories: individual, project and organizational challenges.
At the individual level, we may often see individuals as apathetic, commonly disengaged and often frustrated.
At the project level, we see change projects that are hard to manage and do not realize the benefits that are intended from them.
At the organizational level, we see morale problems; employee turnover is high during these periods of time.
A company’s leadership needs to be aware of where it is at in the continuum of change needs and how much political leverage it has to undergo more change. If an organization is aware of this, it will apply more care and attention to change management and will keep a realistic pulse on the people that form the organization.
At Blueprint, we have been particularly successful in tackling the fast evolution of the company with positivity and purpose. Direction seeps through the entire organization via consistent touch points involving the core team and the company as a whole. While each one of us remains an independent entity, alignment is achieved through a set of clear themes that permeate our general meetings and our one–on–ones. Blueprint exemplifies the simplicity that consistently clear communications and good decision making lead to successful change management.