Change Fatigue – A Simple Remedy

I just got word that organizations are changing so many things at once – IT, performance reviews, operational procedures – that an organizational disease is spreading fast: Change Fatigue.

My co-author husband, Jeffrey, is in Vancouver wrapping up the Academy of Management conference there. He was on a panel to discuss “resistance to change” – a subject we have written several articles about. He heard quite a bit about how people are resisting change now because they are worn out from so many changes already that they don’t even want to hear about a new one.

Why are people getting Change Fatigue? Are there really too many changes?  I don’t think that’s it. We’re a high-change, fast-paced society. We carry mobile phones and use them while we’re walking around (sometimes even while driving – yipes!) – we’re used to doing 3 things at once and change is fine. So what’s wrong with organizations?

Managers don’t know how to have meetings, that’s what. They don’t know the secret words of completion:

  • That’s done. We did it. Good job. Anybody want to say something about how it went?
  • Let’s debrief that project. What worked? What didn’t work? What needs to be cleaned up?
  • Is there anything left about those three projects we did last Spring? Any leftover crumbs we should sweep up and close out?
  • Thanks for handling that. Anything you need to say to be complete?

That’s the way to encourage a Closure Conversation. I’ve written a lot about this, but these conversations need to be brought into meetings too. Change Fatigue is caused, not by change, but by the failure to complete the change. So, if you’re managing something where other people are involved, please wrap things up every now and then. In fact, add one of those conversations to every meeting, and watch that organizational disease start to clear up.

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