September 16, 2015
A culture of continuous change may be standard practice within larger organisations, but it can have a negative effect on employees, a new report claims. The seven-country Liquid Change Survey of senior executives at large corporations, commissioned by Ketchum Change, found that some leaders are unaware of the effects of so-called change fatigue, despite their employees struggle to keep up. Among partners and board-level executives, only 28 percent think change fatigue is highly prevalent. The survey suggests that to succeed in an environment of continuous change, a more collaborative approach must replace the old top-downmodel. Outlining a clear strategy and goals (43 percent) and engaging with leaders across the organization to co-create the new environment (41 percent) were cited as the most effective ways to get leaders to believe in and actively lead through change.
Tyler Durham, partner and president of Ketchum Change said: “Employees don’t have time to adapt to one change before the next one is upon them. The challenge for leaders is to drive change in ways that energize and empower people and ensure their organizations are prepared both culturally and operationally to embrace change as opportunity.”
“The survey tells us many top-tier leaders don’t recognize the exhausting effect that continuous change and volatility has on employees and how that exhaustion can lower employees’ productivity, reduce their engagement and damage retention rates,” said Durham. “And if leaders aren’t aware of it, they will be unprepared for its damaging effects and the resulting costs on their business.”
The survey results point to a cure for change fatigue. They show a strong correlation between companies that have embraced a change culture and those that have a bright outlook on the future. Those companies have committed to four behaviours that Ketchum Change identifies as essential to success in changing environments:
- Transparent: Communicating with clarity and authenticity across borders, and employing the Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor’s proven formula of open communication, decisive action and personal presence;
- Pioneering: Promoting curiosity and experimentation, and supporting risk-taking to break through and innovate;
- Dialed-In: Creating strong connections with internal and external stakeholders, embracing fearless listening and fostering co-creation;
- Agile: Driving forward through passion and resiliency to seize and act on opportunities in real time.
Conversely, the most common impediment to successfully navigating through change was gaining input from across the business. Looking at the results of the study overall, it becomes clear that companies that manage change effectively have a more positive outlook on their future and good communication across the organization is key.
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