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Many organizations and employees are exhausted and tired of hearing about change. Some may even argue that their businesses have experienced enough change recently to last a decade. However, savvy leaders understand that there is no rest for the weary and that consistent change, which is a necessity for business success, is now the new norm.
While it is no secret that companies must continually adapt and reinvent themselves at much faster rates to remain relevant, that is not the reality. According to Innosight’s 2021 Corporate Longevity Forecast, there is a continuing long-term decline in corporate longevity. The average lifespan for S&P 500 companies of 30-35 years in the late 1970s decreased to a forecast of 15-20 years in the decade ending in 2025.
While a 46% average decline in lifespan over 45 years for publicly traded companies does not bode well for some organizations, it helps to underscore a crucial need for companies that are more nimble, adaptable and resilient for long-term success. Of course, many times this requires organizational transformations, which do not have a strong track record. In fact, a whopping 70% of transformation efforts fail, so companies have to devise better strategies to address changes.
How do companies already faced with change fatigue implement organizational changes that effectively serve the needs of the company and its employees? Below are four tips for leaders to consider.
View the situation
Before any discussions related to organizational transformation occur, business leaders should realistically view the situation they face through a people-focused lens. Although most business leaders understand the change that employees are experiencing due to the pandemic, they may not realize the extent.
According to a recent survey, 71% of employees say they are overwhelmed by the amount of change at work and 83% feel their employer has not provided enough tools or resources to help them adapt to change, fueling record levels of burnout that can lead to more resignations.
Employers should be reminded that under normal circumstances, employees are the ones most resistant to change, so they should tread lightly, take the pulse of their workforce and evaluate support mechanisms before making additional changes because employees only have so much capacity for change. If more resources are needed, it is a good idea to boost them before taking the next steps. Business leaders need the buy-in of their most valuable asset — their people — in order to implement further changes. It behooves them to get the lay of the land and to understand the extent to which more changes can be made.
Determine your strategy
When change is discussed, it can have negative connotations, especially given the unprecedented magnitude and pace with which recent changes have occurred. A shift in leadership thinking regarding change is necessary in order to appeal to workers and achieve success going forward. While business leaders are well aware of socially minded business practices and their impact on operations, transitioning this mindset to organizational changes is a natural progression. If change is positioned as a mission with a clear purpose that will make a difference for the company, employees and the community, there is a greater chance it will be viewed in a positive manner.
As employees have been moved to reevaluate their mission, purpose and values, they will be more open to change that has a purpose and they will view their work as a calling to make a difference to the greater good. When leaders share a compelling reason to make changes, it sets the stage for employees to be a part of something exciting in the company’s history, rather than a stressful time of ongoing changes.
The best thing leaders can do to address organizational transformation is to embrace change and accept it as the new norm. According to Capterra, change is going to be rampant during the 2020s and 78% of employees expect constant change to happen in their jobs moving forward.
New technologies are being developed and evaluated, more companies are adopting or increasing technology use, employee and customer expectations are evolving and new job roles are being defined. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, nearly 100 million jobs may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms.
The pandemic, Great Resignation, job market and economic challenges have combined to provide leaders with valuable experience for change initiatives. No matter the situation, past experiences are always a great educator and a way to build a base of knowledge to draw upon in the future. Leaders and employees who effectively embrace change should experience professional and personal growth for long-term success.
Business leaders should consider a realistic view of the situation, determine the strategy and embrace change to overcome the ramifications associated with change. This will allow them to remain relevant and effectively take the next steps in the evolution of their companies.