A 60 day dash to pivot the business had become 120 days. Maybe a little more. But it was over. There was success. Competitors were calling to compliment our smartness.
There was a party for the team that made it happen. As I walked in all excited, I saw a normally passionate, group of young leaders distributed on couches, sipping drinks. I could sense lack of enthusiasm. I tried hard to get them excited and got polite nods, lots of acknowledgement and general gratitude going around. But it wasn’t the evening I had expected.
The next month was tougher. Drooped shoulders, general lethargy, no initiative. This isn’t what a successful change felt like. So I called in a normally excited bunch and I asked them what was wrong. Nothing, I was told. And then quietly some one mentioned they were too tired to be excited. The end of the project meant, the adrenalin had crashed and they just didnt feel upto it.
Over the years I learnt that most change, especially if it is sudden and discontinuous, is painful. Change, especially if it is prolonged or recurring can lead to attrition, reduced engagement, and loss of trust. In fact, the other side of change is not as celebratory as most leaders dream of it being while in battle with the unknowns.
In his article for Forbes in March 2018, Brent Gleeson refers to the term, Change Fatigue in the same vein as battle fatigue. This is a real organisational phenomenon. Change is rarely a smooth process that fits into a perfect time window. It often fails in the first attempt, has many bumps, has periods of uncertainty and grey and is exhausting. As a result, many employees end up cynical, tired, and disbelieving.
The longer the change cycle, the more chances of Change Fatigue. Good leaders know that and are conscious of not just getting to the other end, but getting an energised workforce to the other end.
In the same article, Gleeson also refers to a direct correlation between the Emotional Intelligence of managers and a company’s ability to manage the change process.
Not surprisingly, an increasing number of companies now use coaching as a powerful tool to equip their managers with the tools to manage change.
My advice to all the leaders engaged in change management, is to make coaching a part of organisational culture. It will raise the level of their game significantly. And it will do that at a fraction of the cost of consultants, technical advisors, and mentors.
Even today, many of our clients at The Core Questin bring an agenda of transition and change to the table. My guess is, this is a brief that is likely to repeat itself even more often.
Have you experience change fatigue? Want to chat?
In the meantime, do explore the blueprint for change management, from a human centric perspective that we published recently.