Let’s be honest, most of us probably never envisioned living through a global pandemic, and did not have plans in place to adapt to a remote-work lifestyle. Similarly, most businesses had to pack up and send their employees home on little notice and learn how to navigate new challenges. On the surface, changing to a remote workforce at the drop of a hat seemed manageable. When reality sunk in, you probably started to see the holes in your processes, decreased productivity, and the need to both re-define and digitize your workflow.
Once it was accepted that the pandemic was going to stick around, this meant changes were coming in at lightning speeds. According to David Altman, the COO of the Center for Creative Leadership, “Across all industries, many traditional, hierarchical global companies struggle to innovate and adapt with sufficient speed and, as a result, must change their mindsets about what’s needed to survive and thrive in the new world order.” Leaders also need to look at how the ideas of adapting quickly can affect their overall organization as they are trying new workflow software, re-defining business processes, learning from mistakes, and continuously trying to find solutions that work. This is exhausting for everyone involved and introduces a new problem: change fatigue.
What is change fatigue?
While it might seem like change fatigue is a resistance to change, it could be that your team members are trying to find balance. They’re looking for stability when everything is rapidly changing around them. They’re often overwhelmed, burnt out, and feel more isolated from their teams. These feelings are incredibly destabilizing. In an effort to define a “new normal,” traditional, hierarchical organizations now need to pivot and focus on overcoming change fatigue, and pivot towards a culture of embracing change.
Here are 3 pro-tips for stifling change fatigue in your organization:
1. Embrace a holistic approach to change.
Are you truly digging into what your team needs? Are you only fixing minor nuances, or are you getting to the heart of your processes to determine how you can work smarter? The best place to start is to identify bite-sized changes that have high impact. Here at TrackVia, our motto is “think big, start small, scale fast.”
First, outline your process and identify bottlenecks. Find the area with the highest complaints, and try to fix it first. This will quickly introduce one change to a process while giving you time to work on the next step. Incremental changes will have the greatest impact. Be sure that the change you make is not just a band-aid for one step, or it can turn into a change process with very little impact or positive outcome. With a holistic mindset of finding ways to deeply innovate, you can avoid change fatigue altogether.
Communications in the pandemic have changed as well, and it is good to consider how and what methods you are using to communicate. Fremont University outlines 10 tips for Effective Workplace Communications and states, “When possible, it is best to use face-to-face contact with your coworkers since this builds trust and leaves less room for error with how your message will be received.” However, we all know with remote workers and different working conditions that are not always possible. We now have to work with other platforms for communication, but the basics haven’t changed. It is better to over-communicate in order to be clear and keep your team informed.
Speak honestly and frequently with your team about the need to make changes, and be precise when detailing your desired outcome. Introducing low-code technology will help streamline and automate your workflow, making it easier to complete mundane business tasks. If you’re still compiling the same reports via spreadsheets, you can transform them into workflow applications and let low-code software do the heavy lifting for you. When you take the time to communicate openly and honestly, especially at the start of change, your team can prepare and get excited about the changes ahead.
Next, be transparent with the concerns and challenges you anticipate. If you prepare your team for the risks ahead, they’re more likely to weather those challenges with you and are less resistant to changes. Open lines of communication foster an environment for your team to share their concerns and challenges throughout the change process.
The great benefit of an agile workflow application means there is time to pause and adjust if the plan is not going as expected. Check in with your team early, often, and keep the dialogue open.
3. Encourage a collaborative environment
In an era of self-service, and the desire to fix things fast, it is important to acknowledge you will stumble, even trip and fall. Allow for failures and look at them as a learning process – now you know what not to do. Harvard Business Review describes failure-tolerant leaders as, “executives who, through their words and actions, help people overcome their fear of failure and, in the process, create a culture of intelligent risk-taking that leads to sustained innovation.”
Encourage your team to try various solutions, and acknowledge imperfection is part of the process. Trust them to help you build meaningful changes and learn through that process. When creating a new workflow application, check in with your team during the development phase, set milestones, and collect feedback. As you are creating a new workflow application, ask your front-line users what they would do differently along the way. Embracing imperfections of the change process, and learning at each stage, will help your team feel invested in the process, and eager to use an agile workflow application.
It is time to accept that hierarchical business models are a thing of the past. If there’s one thing we can learn from living through a global pandemic, it is that we live in a dynamic world of constant change, and we need to embrace change as part of a “new normal.”
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