How Organizations Can Overcome Change Fatigue

Water with the words Liquid Change

Change fatigue is bad for business.

With the accelerated pace of change in business, employees are hitting the wall. They’ve reached the limit of their ability to deal productively with change. They are overwhelmed and burned out. They feel isolated and powerless within their own organizations. As a result, they foot-drag, ignore or destructively oppose change because they know they won’t be able to adjust to today’s change before there are told to adjust to tomorrow’s change.

In a world where customers are changing faster than your business, companies can’t survive if employees are not enthusiastically adapting to change at the same speed.

How real is this problem? In Daggerwing Group’s proprietary Liquid ChangeSM seven-country survey 74% of over 500 respondents said that change fatigue exists within their companies; with 39% reporting that it’s highly pervasive.

Change fatigue among the employee ranks isn’t the only challenge. Leaders seemed to suffer change fatigue blindness:

  • 42% of SVPs, VPs and directors agreed that change fatigue was highly prevalent in their company
  • Only 28% of C-Suite Executives and Partners agreed

This tells us that top-tier leaders don’t always recognize the exhausting effect continuous change and volatility can have on employees.

So what can leaders do? The study revealed that organizations that promote agility, transparency, curiosity, courage and relationships are optimistic outperformers.

Daggerwing Group calls this organizational culture and behavior Liquid Change – a way of embracing change as a fluid state of being rather than as a series of discrete events.  Organizations that want to thrive through change need to build a culture, values, skills and operating system that support this liquid state, and gain competitive advantage as a result.

Liquid Change Graph


Based on Daggerwing Group’s collective experience helping clients lead and thrive through change, we identified, tested and confirmed through our study’s findings, the four characteristics that make up a liquid organization:

  1. They are transparent, and leaders within them communicate in a human way
  2. They are pioneering, and encourage curiosity and taking risks to stay ahead of the market
  3. They are deeply dialed-in with customers, consumers and employees, and embrace fearless listening and foster co-creation
  4. They are agile and flexible, and can turn on a dime to capitalize on opportunities.

We now have quantitative verification that companies that manage change effectively have a more positive outlook on their future and good communication is key. Conversely, lack of transparency is one of the top internal barriers to thriving through change. It appears companies who are the least hopeful about the future of their business are much less likely to communicate about change on an on-going basis or engage employees in a dialogue around change.

Maria Dodd, Principal

Maria Dodd, Principal

Maria Dodd is a Principal at Daggerwing Group. She’s passionate about psychology and applying human insights to help clients to inspire and enable their people in achieving the organisation’s goals. She’s getting respite during the lockdown trying to pick back up the piano and getting her daily 10,000 steps in the English countryside.

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