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You want me to do what? How to continue managing transformation when everyone is change fatigued

21 Feb 2024

IPAA Victoria has partnered with Proximity, a valued member, and supporter of our Future of Work series. In recent years, change fatigue has been front of mind for professionals and organisations. The solution for transformative change is a commitment to do change well following an evidence-based approach, writes Proximity.  

You may have noticed a uniting factor among your friends, colleagues, bosses, and family over the last few months: people are tired. A lot has been asked of us in recent years, despite a temporary reprieve and rest over the recent summer period. A global pandemic led to many changes in our lives, from radically different work arrangements and very personal concerns around health and wellbeing, all of which have come at a cost. Now imagine the following icing on the cake – you are being invited to lead or participate in a change program in your workplace. It could be a small change (such as the creation of a new governance mechanism) or an enormous change that has implications at scale. How will people cope? What will they say?  

For those facing this challenge, this article is for you. It is written with our shared fatigue in mind, balanced with a clear-eyed understanding that 2024 is handing us challenges with transformative opportunities that were impossible to picture a few short years ago. So how do we grab this chance, and how do we get others to see it too? 

People successfully manage change all the time, often without realising it. Confusingly, this capability falls flat when a formal ‘change’ label is applied, and the project takes two steps backwards before it has begun. This resistance is especially pronounced when your audience is already feeling change fatigue. 

The solution is to commit to doing change well. It’s not magic that sets a change program (big or small) up for success. You need a sound, evidence-based approach that is carefully designed for your people and your business—coupled with a few small things done well.   

Let’s start with the evidence-based approach. Proximity works with clients to apply a tailored plan that is underpinned by Critical Success Factors. These are dependencies that must be established to successfully embed changes within an organisation and are critical in overcoming change fatigue. 

  1. Clear leadership direction: Leadership alignment is vital. There are so many moving parts during a transformation. It is therefore essential that leadership teams establish a unified direction and share this vision with the broader organisation. When leadership is not aligned, implementation will not be successful. 
  2. Accountability for implementation: Define everyone’s implementation accountabilities and responsibilities to ensure sustained change. You’ll need clear channels for checking-in and tracking progress.
  3. Regular, clear and consistent communication: Regular, clear and consistent two-way communication across all levels of the organisation will increase awareness, set expectations and educate stakeholders. 
  4. Integration, alignment and prioritisation: Consider other changes happening within your organisation, and then align and prioritise them where possible. Strategic prioritisation helps manage change fatigue, as people know what’s coming and where to focus their time, effort, and budget. 
  5. People – capability and capacity: Your people are central to change. What do they need and want? In the words of Peter Senge, ‘people don’t resist change, they resist being changed’. Take the time to understand how they will be impacted and plan accordingly. 

Now, what about those ‘few small things done well’? This is where true expertise is needed: yours, as the experts in your organisation, and ours, as trusted sidekicks and experts in change. We bring bold ideas, genuine people, and deliver helpful outcomes. Working together we can build trust and momentum, and be sure to deliver some quick wins to help overcome change fatigue along the way. 

At Proximity, we keep things simple, we speak your language, and we come in as both strategists and doers. We understand that people are tired, but changes are (and should be) happening. It’s time to take these opportunities, and to work smart so that our fatigue can fall away along the ride. Get started today and learn more about how Proximity can help your organisation.  



The opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IPAA Victoria.