From Change-Fatigue to Change-Ready
We’ve been thinking a bit about change, which can often feel like something that’s done to us, not something we plan for, manage or control. This can feel particularly so in the workplace, where it can present a variety of challenges and be difficult to do well.
These days, many people are change-fatigued. This is understandable given the pace, size and complexity of what we’ve been dealing with in recent times, in all aspects of our lives. Employers and employees have had no choice but to adapt, adapt and adapt, as organisations and individuals, and the pressure isn’t going away.
As we move beyond a pandemic, we are faced with a range of influences that will no doubt require continued activities to review and change – lower business confidence, slower growth, inflationary pressures, low unemployment (that may increase then decrease), a continued shortage of talent, cost pressures, weather impacts, social challenges, and an upcoming general election. Then there are things like new technologies and digitalisation, and the ongoing feeling to be ‘always on’, while balancing our well-being and personal lives.
So how do we prepare for further change – to be ‘change-ready’? We’ve thought about a few things employers and employees can do to help here, to be well-equipped, and to enable shared success and solid, sustainable employment relationships.
Have your house in order. For employers, when it comes to your people and managing well through change, make sure you are clear on your obligations – that your employment agreements, policies and procedures are in place, relevant and up to date, and that your ways of working are clear and communicated. The same goes for your data and information, which supports quality decision-making. All this makes it easier and clearer for everyone involved if you need to consider doing things differently.
For employees, also know your obligations, your employment agreement and what is expected of you. Learn about and know the business you work in, and constructively participate as if it were your own.
Ensure your goals and vision are clear. Employers need employees to know what they are part of, what they are working towards, and what their role is. (Ever heard the story of the stonecutter who was building a cathedral? When three stonecutters were each asked what they were doing, the first replied, “I am cutting stones”, the second replied “, I am cutting stones to make money to support my family”, and the third replied, “I am building a cathedral!”).
Employers need to share and talk about goals and what the future looks like, and to then help employees understand what change may be required, why and what it would mean for them. Performance goals and expectations should be understood and able to be adapted, while giving and receiving feedback should be a normal part of the way of working, while making continuous improvements.
Communication and engagement. Keeping it regular, open, and transparent is critical to everyone feeling informed and part of what’s going on, even more so when it comes to change. Like feedback, make it genuinely two-way so that employees are involved, want to participate, know their ideas are listened to and that their contribution is valued. It works well when employers use various channels or ways to communicate and engage – a mix of in-person, one-to-one and team meetings, emails and updates. Find ways that work for your business and team. And repeat, repeat, repeat.
Employees need to be proactive in asking questions and constructively sharing information, observations, ideas and concerns. Everyone has a role in taking ownership to get the information they need for things to work well and helping others to do so. No one likes surprises when it comes to change.
Build and develop leadership capability and skills. Leadership is critical at the best of times, more so during change. Supporting leaders to lead through change, giving them the information, tools and resources they need is part of any successful change. Change leadership can come from employees too – encouraging and allowing individuals to show personal leadership helps to champion change. Employees can look for ways to do this to provide more successful outcomes and build stronger, more valuable employment relationships and trust.
Ongoing training and development. It is important to continue developing new skills and knowledge, for people to evolve and remain relevant. No matter what change needs to take place, the shortage of talent makes it critical to support and invest for short, medium and long term success, for any organisation and employee. This is a shared responsibility, and employers and employees need to collaborate on keeping up to date, maintaining an external focus on what’s happening, and what skills and knowledge are required, now and in the future. Know your strengths as an employer and employee, and find ways to leverage these. Look for opportunities to enhance your toolkit, to diversify, and find potential opportunities that come from change.
Be flexible, open-minded, and challenge your thinking. This can help make it easier to deal with change and being able to adapt to the situation and environment, what’s required, and new ways of working. Encourage an environment of awareness of self and others, to appreciate differences and leverage the diversity you have, including in the different ways of thinking amongst the team.
Develop and maintain your network and connections with others. It is truly beneficial to have access to a diverse mix of people and contacts inside and also outside of your organisation – whether other employers, industry groups, networks, and competitors, especially in times of change. This can provide support, ideas, opportunities, problem-solving, insights and sometimes fresh perspectives or a different point of view.
Managing through change, although challenging, can still lead to successful and sustainable outcomes for everyone involved. Dealing with and working through ongoing change (and change- fatigue) requires collaboration, understanding and appreciating others, focusing on the future and working out where best to spend your time, energy and money.
It can also help to remember that change is not usually personal, even when it feels like it. Developing a change-ready approach and mindset can help navigate the road ahead and enable employers and employees to prepare; to be ‘change-ready’.
Contact us at Three60 Consult if you would like to discuss any aspect of working through change in your organisation. Our team of employment experts are experienced in all aspects of preparing for, managing, and reinforcing change. We can help identify and assess your needs, develop and implement plans, diagnose challenges and identify appropriate solutions. Our team is here to support you and find a sustainable way forward for the ever-changing environment and the future.