Change is necessary. A business that fails to change will lose its influence in the industry by falling behind its competition and driving away customers. According to research by Gartner, companies on average have gone through five organization-wide changes from 2017 to 2020.
When change initiatives are implemented properly, they lead to success. On the other hand, when changes are implemented the wrong way or at the wrong time, they will do more harm than good. One common mistake that organizations make is focusing so much on what is being changed that they fail to think about how this change affects the people who are going to live with it.
3 Ways Too Much Change Can Frustrate Your Employees and Culture
As I often say, it’s not what you change that matters: it’s how you change. Any change, even if it’s something good, can be stressful on people. It’s not surprising that only 34% of change initiatives are clearly successful. Accepting change itself is difficult for people. How much more can they do if you overload them with changes? Changing too much or changing too often leads to problems in the workplace. Aside from thinking about how you change, you should also think about how much you are changing.
1. Too much change can cause mental stress.
Some companies have a culture that supports employees to embrace change more easily than others. They are usually the ones that constantly look for ways to improve operations. But even in an organization that masters the art of continuous process improvement, there is always a stage where you need to stabilize the change.
When you have come to a point of standardizing your processes, the next thing is to stabilize the change.
This is the time and space where you are not changing and you are just executing. People can take a breath and not go home complaining about things at work constantly changing.
Based on a 2017 study by the American Psychological Association, 55% of people who stated they had recently or were currently experiencing organizational changes at work reported feeling chronic stress. Aside from experiencing increased stress levels, 39% had work-life imbalance and 35% had negative feelings toward co-workers. Always give your people a breather because they deserve it, and it will allow them to be mentally prepared for the next change.
2. Too much change can trigger fear of failure.
Constant changes on the job can cause your people to doubt their capabilities to carry out their tasks. It will negatively affect their performance. There will always be a learning curve in every change, and it takes a certain level of knowledge and experience for people to get comfortable with a new tool or process. It’s frustrating to deal with one change when you are still learning to adapt to another one. You don’t want your people to be operating under the fear of failure. Changes are meant to help them thrive in their jobs, not paralyze or hinder them from performing their best.
3. Too much change can breed a toxic work environment.
An organization that constantly implements changes without considering how its people are dealing with these changes creates a toxic workplace. In a positive work environment, people thrive because they have the right support and are not stressed out. It’s difficult for people to thrive when they are overloaded with changes. It can lead to burnout, and it’s a surefire sign of a toxic work environment.
Keep in mind…
Change directly impacts how your people do their work and how they feel about their work. Change is difficult, and everyone has a different way of dealing with change. When your current changes are more than what your people can handle, it will lead to poor performance, loss of productivity and even employee turnover.
My message is this: change, but don’t change too much that you negatively impact your people. You don’t change just for the sake of saying you’re changing and not being stagnant. This is the value of continuous improvement: adding value to the way you operate and normalizing small, incremental and sustainable changes over time. You can’t just throw things at the wall and hope something will stick: you need to be intentional and deliberate in the way you introduce and implement change.
To avoid making unnecessary changes, always plan for change, even when nothing is “wrong.” Understand why you are making these changes, determine if they are indeed useful and necessary at the moment and plan thoroughly how to implement these changes so your people don’t have a hard time dealing with them.
In love and respect,