Your people are change fatigued – but it’s not what you think. There’s no way around it – people are experiencing change fatigue. Even the most adaptable teams have a limit on how much they can be expected to naturally adjust their work cycles.

We’ve had some of the most unprecedented world events in years recently. It’s easy to default to these factors and blame them for inconsistencies in performance and results. While these events have a role to play in the fatigue, it’s not the core issue teams are facing.

The real cause of exhaustion? The design or under-utilisation of your operating model and how it’s responding (or not responding) to environmental changes. Your people shouldn’t, and can’t, be expected to adjust on their own.

In this article, we’ll discuss how change fatigue is impacting your team and ways to adjust your organisation’s processes to be more resilient to change.

High turnover creates exhaustion and change fatigue

The current global climate has caused high turnover and a rise in people movements. This is an issue that’s appearing across industries. With managers and teams constantly coming in and out, people then have to spend time learning a new way of working and changing ALL their systems and processes to accommodate the new person. This approach focuses on the ‘who’ and not the ‘what.

It’s no surprise that this constant cycle of change is exhausting for your people. It also results in teams delivering low-quality work and communication breakdowns across teams.

Businesses need to implement processes that focus on the what ‘capabilities’ and the why. It should be resilient and adapt to the environment, even if the people involved are changing over time. This framework provides the stable foundations needed for an organisation to succeed and helps to avoid the dreaded change fatigue.

Providing stable foundations for your organisation

Even if your business or organisation has a set of processes in place, they might not be reflective of your current situation. Inefficient processes can also make it difficult for your business to scale over time.

Most organisations have business models that guide your performance goals and how to stay a profitable business. Within that, you need an operating model. Operating models help your business build towards those future goals and performance targets. It should encompass everything in the day-to-day including processes, strategy, and even how people are managed. This is the foundation for how everything within your organisation works.

A successful operating model has the capability to absorb and mitigate the impacts of external factors that can affect performance and manage the response. This includes things like movement in people. It allows for easier transition and adaption to change.

Agile transformation can help your team transition to an enterprise that thrives in environments – like the world today – where there is constant change and now growing change fatigue. Your business should be referring to your operating model on an ongoing basis to align on priorities. If your operating model is agile, your teams should generally be able to self-adjust, which eliminates any deficiencies in day-to-day operations and project delivery.

Continuous improvement not continuous overhaul

It’s easy to avoid setting frameworks with the mindset that the next ‘unexpected factor’ is going to make your strategy irrelevant. Changing business climates are inevitable.

That’s why it’s important to focus on continuous improvement, not continuous overhaul. It’s more important to set the key elements and relationships and allow them to adjust over time. There’s no need to scramble and start from scratch any time there are shifts in the environment. The foundation and key elements are what help future-proof your business model, not the performance.

While agile teams adjust well to changes, there are always improvements to the model and processes that can be made over time to optimise for your team. Conduct annual environment scans to regularly monitor and evaluate external factors. At which point you can determine to what extent changes are needed to support the current and foreseeable business environment.

Final thoughts

While employee turnover and other global events cause additional strain on organisations, the external environment will constantly be changing. There will consistently be factors that put pressure on your team’s way of working.

Embracing operating models that are robust and agile can help shield your day-to-day operations from changing environments. While they need to be continuously adjusted and future-proofed, they can help your teams embrace the change. The result? Less change fatigue and better results for your organisation.

If you’d like to learn more, you can have a read of this Harvard Business Review article on how managers can handle change fatigue.

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