Managing Change Saturation Through Data
By James Hunt, June 16 2022
Dealing with change saturation
A business facing any kind of change needs to do so as effectively as possible. Change provides a distraction to businesses and employees – while it is absolutely necessary for businesses to push forward with new ways of working and adapt to current and future business challenges, any ‘change’ means attention is focussed on something other than core business – and that loss of attention needs to be minimised to improve focus on day-to-day business outcomes.
Now, take one change within your organisation and multiply that by 10s, 100s or even thousands – this complex web of diversions can prove incredibly time consuming to any business.
And what our clients are telling us and what we are seeing across the market, is that change is ramping up – not slowing down. Our data led, pacey world means that businesses are pivoting more quickly, adapting to market conditions, and having to respond to challenges in a way that they have not had to do previously, creating a business seemingly always in flux.
Identifying change saturation
The layering of change upon change, combined with change occurring over a long or extended period, can lead to ‘change saturation’ (and ultimately change fatigue) meaning that your people cannot possibly absorb anymore change and it becomes hard to focus on that core part of the business.
Change saturation doesn’t just happen at work – most of us will, at some point in our lives hit that sense that there is just too much going on – changing jobs, moving house, complex personal relationships – leaving us feeling like you don’t know where to start, where to turn on how to tackle things and fundamentally becoming demotivated and overcome.
The same thing (and the same feelings) is increasingly being triggered in a work context as we are asked to adapt quicker to more changes in the workplace.
Indications you have reached saturation
Three key signs of change saturation are:
- You and your people are not engaging with the change – even if you see its value i.e., employees say things like ‘I get too many emails on the projects going on in the organisation’, ‘I have stopped engaging with projects, or ‘there is too much going on’.
- Employees report a disconnect i.e. ‘I used to like working here but things are changing too fast’, ‘it’s not like it used to be’.
- Projects and initiatives feel hard to deliver, or your voice is difficult to be made heard due to competing demands on people and resources.
How can you mitigate the risk of change saturation?
A critical first step is to get a handle on the scale of the problem you face. The problem is exacerbated by many initiatives with competing agendas and drivers, led by unrelated teams. Each of these teams is often incentivised to close out their own set of objectives as efficiently and quickly as possible. But very few organisations instigate transformation initiatives with a recognition that there will be cumulative impact of this change.
Step #1 - Understand the problem
Even on a small scale, or in a small area of your business, mapping the change happening in your business will start to prove hugely valuable. In Insight, we can help you visualise the volume of change occurring across your business now and into the future. This will help you identify and drill into areas of particular change intensity. We can also track and analyse this in line with, for example, the sentiment of your organisation or the groups or individuals feeling the most pain to give you a richer picture of how the change landscape is impacting your business.
There are then really 3 key strategies to manage change saturation:
- Do less
Plan and schedule projects to minimise the overall volume of changes hitting your business at any given time. This may free people up to focus on delivering core business as well as strategic initiatives but note that it may not remove the sense of change fatigue – where people are worn down by an unstable and ever-changing work environment.
- Resource initiatives differently
If you understand the future landscape in a holistic way, you can start to think about where to use your resources most effectively. Rather than see your change resources as individuals assigned to one or a set of specific initiatives, you can choose to use teams in a more agile manner – moving people to different areas when you know there is more to do and more support required, to help smooth the journey of change.
- Deliver user centred change journeys
Ultimately, what we want to do, is to help businesses design change journeys that link initiatives together and make change feel less like a series of disconnected projects but a real journey of growth for that business area.
In this scenario, audiences might be managed by change professionals or networks responsible for guiding that business area through whatever change might face them. Painting a picture of how multiple change programmes are going to change their world of work – and ideally having the space and knowledge of the transformation to be able to design a journey that shows how a business unit will be better at the end than at the beginning, is the end goal. Removing project names, jargon, disparate training, and engagement could ultimately mean that employees don’t need to think of their journey as change but growth and development.
We believe this approach will fundamentally change the way that businesses transform, importantly leading to successful change initiatives due to engaged and motivated employees.
If you want to know more about managing change saturation through data, get in touch with the Serendata team today to see how we can help.