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Balancing Team Fatigue with Change

Ask an expert: THE BALANCING ACT

How can we balance the change tolerance of the individual and that of the organization? How do you respect the team's fatigue with the demands of the world?

This is two-dimensional. One part is understanding the point-in-time climate of the team and workforce specific to fatigue, and the other is about deliberate capability building of team members in specific areas to drive to a culture of organizational resilience.

Organizations are established for a purpose, and it is not always about the bottom line. For organizations to remain viable and not go the way of Kodak or Blockbuster, there needs to be an element of adaptability built into the DNA of the organization.

Assessing change fatigue provides a point-in-time view of what is going on with the organization. This information can inform short-term actions to minimize the impact of the change fatigue. Examples can be time off awards, quiet days, wellness days, no meeting days, spot bonuses, and more. These strategies are intended to help mitigate fatigue, help people recharge and re-energize to focus on what’s needed.

Assessing organizational resilience is about planning for the long-term and developing capability so people in the organization are ready, willing, and able to change. This looks at three key factors:

  1. Personal resilience: How do individuals respond to change and bounce forward?
  2. Change agility: How adaptable are individuals when things shift?
  3. Transformational leadership: How do leaders lead through disruption?
  • By focusing on these factors to develop skills you can help mitigate change fatigue without compromising the organizational mission.

    Sometimes, however, you lose people along the way because they get too fatigued, can’t adapt, don’t want to adapt, or don’t like the change. That’s okay. The organization still has a mission and purpose and as people and organizations evolve, there is a constant re-evaluation of fit. Sometimes organizations decide someone is no longer a fit; sometimes people decide they are no longer a fit. That doesn’t mean the organization is doing anything wrong by staying focused on the goal.

    So, how can you mitigate change fatigue in your organization? Be deliberate in ongoing dialogue and conduct a regular climate check with people in the business. Use information to identify short-term needs to help people get through the fatigue.

  1. Share reminders of the mission, goals, and strategy to help people connect to the way their work is contributing. Make sure that the work being done aligns with the organization mission. Extra work, busy work, non-value-added work can be an emotional drain.
  2. Look at how you deliberately manage change in your organization. Emails and job aids may not be sufficient. Managing change is an active process and requires leaders at all levels to take an active role. Managing change is not linear and is rarely a clean process. The work is in the “messy middle” conversations, not delivering the perfect newsletter or roadshow deck.
  3. Look at how you deliberately develop the skills of the workforce to experience change more productively and how your managers lead through change. Building internal capability for change may give you the biggest lift of all.

Barbari Griesse is a vice president of Avaap's change management practice and a Prosci® Certified Advanced Instructor. She is an experienced leader and expert in organizational change management, organizational effectiveness, executive leadership, and organization development. Connect with Barbari to learn how you can build your team's resilience to change.

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