Change fatigue at work? Four ways to drive lasting change

30 March 2022 2 min. read

After two years of Covid-19 and an environment of constant instability, many organisations are experiencing change fatigue. For leaders, this means that driving further change in organisations has become a daunting task. Be Pannell from the Australian College of Applied Professions outlines how leaders can nevertheless effectively create meaningful, lasting organisational change.

Create a shared vision

To avoid an excessive focus on the limitations of change, leaders also need to create a clear narrative around the reason and benefits of the change for the organisation and the customers they serve.

It is important that this vision is not directed ‘top down’ and that individuals and teams can contribute, generating a sense of agency and belonging. Creating a shared vision requires active dialogue where different perspectives are considered, allowing all to feel included.

Change fatigue at work? Four ways to drive lasting change

Build trust

We have all experienced workplaces divided between ‘us’ and ‘them’ where staff become suspicious of others and resist change unreasonably. Neuroscience shows that when we feel threatened, our brain goes into fight or flight mode, and we become defensive and unreasonable.

Building trust through regular and clear communication, providing opportunities for staff to raise issues, and actively responding to ensure they feel heard goes a long way to creating a culture more open to change.

Further reading: The importance of people, trust and transparency in a digital workforce.

Clear communication

As leaders, it’s easy to forget that communication is two-way, which means that the most effective communicators are those who actively listen. By taking the time to listen, acknowledge what you have heard and ensure the other person feels heard, you can see the impact of change from other people’s perspective and effectively work through the problems that the change raises.

Acknowledge and address resistance

People resist change they don’t understand or feel a part of. Leaders who have been working on a strategic change will be at a different level of readiness than staff who are just hearing about it.

It’s important for leaders to engage in a consultation process with key stakeholders to understand the implications of the change in all parts of the business. This also creates a transition period for employees to get used to the change and have their issues addressed.

In summary

Ultimately leaders who are good at change management are good at people management. They understand the value of building trust, consulting and engaging with different stakeholders and maintaining a curious attitude to the perspectives and values of others, while creating a compelling narrative on the purpose of change. While it’s unlikely that the pace of change will slow, taking the time to apply these four factors is time well spent.