Here’s advice on how to manage leadership and change fatigue in the face of yet another Machinery of Government (MOG) change. While it’s an old adage it certainly holds true now more than ever. The one constant is that change is constant and while we know people love change, we also know they don’t.
What can go wrong when change is afoot?
As humans, we seek variety and get bored with the same old so we look forward to the stimulation and novelty of new and different things. On the other hand, we resist and avoid change when faced with the unfamiliar or unwelcome.
Why is this so? When we perceive a gain, we love change. When we perceive a loss, we hate change. Change fatigue, burnout and resignation are all real risks associated with change.
And the workplace is almost universally awash with it. From restructures, to cost-cutting and technology upheaval – on top of our personal lives – the impact of change is overwhelming.
Actually, few changes are insignificant – try changing car park arrangements, or work titles.
Generally, there are three standard responses to change.
- Bring it on excitement.
- I’ll let you know as it goes.
- I hate it.
Mostly, the response is dependent on circumstances, although people do tend to fall into one of these three categories. Then there are the many mindsets such as the optimist, pessimist, extrovert, introvert, risk averse or enthusiast. All are valid and need to be engaged in the management of change.
How articulating ‘The Why’ builds trust and commitment
How do we cope or even thrive under these circumstances?
Dealing with the psychological impact of this onslaught is the key. It’s the people, stupid. First, there needs to be a well thought out plan, or vision for the change. Not just budgetary, or efficiency, or any transactional reason… People want to know ‘what’s in it for me?’
As Simon Sinek says: Start with The Why.
Seem obvious? Yet in the majority of cases leadership sends a one-off communication that jumps straight into The What and maybe The How. As writer Patrick Lencioni says, top leadership needs to over communicate The Why.
Articulate an inspiring and engaging vision builds trust and commitment, bringing people along your journey.
How mentoring can develop exceptional service-based cultures
When The Why and the vision are embedded, people need support to align and adjust to the new normal. Support will help move individuals from uncertainty, fear and loss to embracing opportunities. Dealing with the psychological impact of change is key.
This is where coaching and mentoring play a significant and enduring role. Both involve listening, validating, empathising, challenging, guiding and focus on purpose and results. Strangely, the majority of us are not very good at these skills.
Rather than listen, we tend to tell. We tend to focus on our own experience and needs, as opposed to appreciating the significance of others’ needs. Since we must work together in order for things to go well, the intervention of coaching and mentoring is a perfect way to develop these skills for ourselves and our organisation.
If an organisation truly cares about its people, it will commit to supporting their wellbeing and development through change because supported people are more engaged and more productive.
Increasing skills and confidence to become leaders
In 2016, Art of Mentoring client NSW Department of Primary Industries investigated options for developing and sustaining a strong leadership pipeline of research scientists to underpin the growth, sustainability and biosecurity of primary industries in NSW.
The Department recognises that science and technology underpins the achievement of stronger primary industries through the 2019-23 strategic plan. Read the case study here
Participants who responded to the survey reported many positive benefits from the program:
- 70% of mentees who responded indicated the program positively enhanced their Career/Job Satisfaction.
- 90% mentors and 64% of mentees and reported a positive impact on leadership capacity.
- 80% of mentees indicated the program had both a positive impact on their attitude to their employer and the likelihood of continuing to work in their profession.
Mentoring can be a powerful change management tool
In 2015, our client Toyota Australia undertook a massive restructure by relocating its entire sales and marketing team from Sydney to Melbourne and closing its Australian manufacturing plant.
Toyota could neither afford the productivity drain associated with simmering fear and discontent, nor lose its high value performers in one fell swoop. Toyota is just one of our clients who have used mentoring to support their people during massive internal change.
Perhaps most telling are the results from their annual staff survey in October 2015. With the closure of the manufacturing plant looming and sales and marketing staff deciding whether to stay or go, the engagement rate actually increased 1.35% on the previous year. At the height of disruptive change, the team continued to feel part of the Toyota organisation. Read the case study here