Transformation failure can create a cynical population that actively derides and battles change, imperiling future transformation initiatives.
Gartner says CIOs are recognising that digital and business transformation initiatives depend on successful organisational change.
CIOs leading these initiatives should avoid ignoring change fatigue, advise Gartner analysts Suzanne Adnams and Elise Olding.
“Demonstrate awareness of how much change employees are experiencing by sequencing periods of change followed by time to master new skills,” the two write in a Gartner report on organisational change pitfalls for CIOs to avoid.
They describe change fatigue as a paralysis in the organisation that affects each individual's ability to embrace the next set of changes.
It creates a sense of apathy about change because employees don't have a clear sense of change priorities, they point out.
At its worst, “transformation failure can create a cynical population that actively derides and battles change, imperiling future transformation initiatives.”
In the report, the Gartner analysts observe the pace of change continues to overwhelm the ability of staff to make the needed behavioral and process changes.
“Digital business transformation will have multiple projects, and many times, a single stakeholder group may be barraged with multiple changes that are occurring at the same time. This creates change fatigue,” they state.Read more: Westpac CIO Dawie Olivier on 'The killer app for today’s ICT teams'
“Ignoring change fatigue is a major contributor to change failure.”
They note change is not limited to IT projects and formal transformation programmes.
“Incomplete change contributes to change fatigue as well, because employees can feel they are working in two modes — the new way and the old way.”
This can happen when middle management continues to expect and reward the old patterns of behaviour, even when faced with a new way of working.
One of the ways to manage this is to determine the reasonable amount of change a group can absorb.
CIOs and change leaders should also consider the time staff need to master new skills, they further advise.
They need to work with managers and human resources teams in modifying job descriptions and performance metrics so these will align and support the new environment.
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