Employee engagement: when business change becomes business churn

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Being ‘dynamic’ is today’s business trend. Dynamism conveys an impression of agility, speed, innovation and flexibility – all perfect characteristics in a rapidly moving market. Yet are these businesses really dynamic or are they simply confusing frequent change with dynamism?

Innovative leaders wanting to be seen publicly driving their business forward is another big business trend – think Steve Jobs, Paul Jacobs, Marissa Mayer and Larry Page. All four are big personalities that regularly extol dole out advice through the media. Today’s bosses are meant to be someone and if you’re not seizing on ideas to revolutionize industries, well, just what are you doing? Yet are you really helping your business?

Recent research suggests not. In fact, the non-stop, overlapping volume of change flowing through businesses is wearing out employees, to the point of exhaustion and despondency, and yet too many senior leaders are blind to the problem, ramping up the churn when they should be slowing it down.

Employees complain that they rarely have time to adapt to one change before the next change is upon them, forcing them to re-learn and reconfigure working practices that have only recently been set up. The effects of this level of churn are fatigue, exhaustion, reduced engagement, poor staff retention and depressed productivity.

Rather than simply opening up the floodgates of change, business leaders would be better served exploring how they can position change as something exciting and energizing, rather than letting employees fear it. To achieve this, leaders must ensure the business, as an organization, is ready operationally and culturally to transform change into opportunity and empowerment. However very few companies are at this stage.

Make change meaningful, which means plot change against a clear business strategy that factors in department and even individual strategies. Then identify goals that represent major milestones in achieving the strategic vision that clearly show progress in action. This way employees can see the larger benefits of change, and not just how it affects their day-to-day job.

Important characteristics to embracing a culture of change include:

  • Networked – ensure the organisation is connected and works together.
  • Transparency – communicate clearly and inform people of the business strategy and provide regular updates on progress.
  • Innovation – promote change as exciting and engaging.
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