The current state of the business world is characterised by frequent and ongoing changes, ranging from technological progress to the adoption of hybrid work models, as well as evolving customer expectations and the occurrence of global pandemics. Although these changes can be advantageous for businesses, they can also impose immense stress and exhaustion on employees who are required to adjust to these transformations. This phenomenon, referred to as change fatigue, is greatly affecting the overall well-being and effectiveness of workers. Here we will explore the causes of change fatigue and how leadership management and the best executive coaching can influence how to handle such issues in the workplace.
The transformation deficit
According to a recent article in Harvard Business Review, Gartner’s research reveals that in 2022, the average employee went through 10 deliberate changes within their organisation, compared to only two in 2016. These changes could include restructuring for improved efficiency, implementing a cultural transformation to foster innovative work methods, or replacing outdated technology systems.
According to the same report, a recent Gartner survey has shown that employees’ willingness to support organisational change dropped significantly from 74 percent in 2016 to only 43 percent in 2022, signalling a decline in their enthusiasm for transformations within the business.
The authors refer to the difference between the effort required for change and the willingness of employees to change as the “transformation deficit.” They suggest that if functional leaders do not navigate this deficit effectively and promptly, it can hinder an organisation’s ambitions and have a negative impact on the employee experience, leading to decreased engagement and higher attrition rates.
Causes of Change Fatigue
Change fatigue often arises from the rapid pace of transformation within organisations. In order to stay competitive or adjust to new market conditions, organisations frequently implement changes quickly. However, this constant state of flux can leave employees feeling constantly on edge, anticipating the next change. Consequently, this uncertainty and lack of control can amplify stress and anxiety levels.
The absence of adequate support for employees during these transitions is another significant factor influencing this phenomenon. Employers may mistakenly believe that their workforce will effortlessly adjust to new procedures or organisational frameworks without encountering any challenges, but in reality, this is frequently not the situation.
Cooperative Navigation as the Optimal Approach for Driving Change
Change exhaustion is causing a decrease in employee retention. Moreover, the existing hierarchical approach to leadership and management is failing to bring about any positive changes in this circumstance.
As experienced leaders or managers, it is crucial for us to consider whether we truly represent the individuals comprising our team(s). Do we grasp their perspectives and effectively contribute to fostering a collective sense of belonging?
Many leaders lack the inclusion of self-identity in their skill set when it comes to effectively managing change, which is an important aspect.
In the realm of work, a significant portion of an individual’s identity is formed through their job and the relationships they foster with colleagues and team members. This sense of identity brings about a sense of empowerment, purpose, and significance. When this identity is confronted with the possibility of change, it can evoke feelings of apprehension or fear. Consequently, individuals may react in various ways when confronted directly with change, such as during organisational restructures, mergers, or acquisitions.
As individuals in positions of authority, we must also grasp the concept that leadership is fundamentally a collaborative and team effort. Our role as leaders is not about exerting control or dominance over others, but rather about harnessing the collective power and potential of our team members to drive effective change.
Prior to commencing any change initiatives, leaders and managers should initiate the process by identifying the various groups that will be impacted and considering how their identities will be influenced. It is essential to comprehend the implications that change will have on these groups and devise strategies to facilitate their transition, ultimately benefiting the entire organisation. This can be achieved by involving employees throughout the entire process, enabling them to collaboratively make decisions regarding the change and gain a comprehensive understanding of the personal significance of successfully implementing the change.
Adapting Leadership Models in the Ever-Changing Landscape
The approaches to leading and managing others should transition from an individualistic perspective to a collaborative one.
You may be familiar with various leadership concepts such as identity leadership, humanistic leadership, humane leadership, conscious leadership, and more. Essentially, these terms all refer to a coaching-based approach in leading others. However, what many people may not be aware of is that employing a coaching approach can also significantly enhance the success rate of change management endeavours.
Leadership that centres around the needs and experiences of individuals, known as human-centric leadership, involves leading with authenticity, empathy, and adaptability. These qualities are not merely desirable but are increasingly expected by contemporary employees.
A coaching approach encompasses these characteristics as well as heightened self-awareness. It requires advanced abilities in active listening, posing insightful questions, providing feedback, and offering motivation. These qualities effectively contribute to assisting others in developing confidence, engagement, and resilience, while also creating an environment conducive to reflective thinking. Additionally, such skills are particularly valuable in preventing the onset of change fatigue by establishing optimal conditions.
A collective body that you can lead, referred to as the “We,” is necessary for efficient leadership and management.” As a leader, it is crucial to not only meet the basic requirements but also go beyond and genuinely comprehend the thoughts, feelings, and actions of your team. By genuinely connecting with your team members, you will witness the evidence of your leadership in the followership you earn, and you will witness a collaborative atmosphere among your team members, especially during challenging and uncertain times.