Is the pace
of change in your workplace wearing people out? In the increasingly complex and
that most workplaces find themselves these days, it seems that the only
constant is the endless cycle of change. But does this much change have to be a
Our recent Change Lab 2019 Workplace Survey asked 1,000 Americans how they were
navigating the pace of change in their workplace. What they told us blew apart three old
leadership ideas about workplace changes:
- Firstly, it’s not true that 70% of workplace
changes fail despite this number being widely reported. Rather 83% of workplace
changes are succeeding on some level, so it’s time to let go of these outdated
narratives and start sharing and celebrating what’s working.
- Secondly, it’s not the pace of change in
workplaces that is wearing people down or burning them out. It’s how leaders
approach change and how successful the changes are that either causes workers
to thrive or to barely get by.
- Finally, it’s not the ability of leaders to
tell-and-control that delivers the best change results. Instead, it’s their
ability to invite-and-inquire as they bring diverse voices into meaningful
change conversations and give them the freedom to self-organize and take
In a nutshell, American workers
told us that it’s time for leaders and workplaces to embrace the messy,
unpredictable, and magical process of change. And while the idea of letting go
of our illusions of control can be frightening for many leaders, the goods new
is that people
are wired to be resilient enough to dance between stability and change in
order to grow and that this is the only way we ever discover what we’re truly
capable of achieving.
How can you
create more positive changes in your workplace?
The Change Lab 2019 Workplace Survey findings suggested trying to be:
- Driven by organizational purpose – A clearly articulated and understood
organizational purpose, beyond just paychecks and profits, is a strong
predictor of change success and people’s levels of wellbeing. A growing body of research indicates that when your organization’s
leaders embrace a higher purpose that serves your community, you are six times
more likely to outperform others in the market and have three times higher
growth rate. And knowing and aligning your everyday work with your purpose is a powerful way to build motivation and wellbeing.
- Concentrated on strengths – Organizations who focus on building on their strengths, rather than fixing their
weaknesses overcome the brain’s tendency to view the world through a deficit
lens and fixate on what is broken. While focusing on weaknesses can teach you a
lot about failure, it doesn’t necessarily bring you any closer to understanding
what enables excellence. For example, exit interviews with employees tell you nothing
about why your best employees stay.
- Led by inclusive and meaningful
conversations – Intentional
and meaningful conversations where diverse perspectives about the work being
done and people’s hopes for the future are invited in, make it significantly
more likely that change will be successful and that workers will have higher
levels of wellbeing. Ask
purpose-fuelled, strengths-focused questions that tap into why being part
of the change conversation is personally important for them, what they value
about the present, and what do they care about enough to take responsibility
for as they move forward. Listen with curiosity and an openness to learn from
each other’s perspectives.
- Powered by opportunities for purposeful self-organization – People who are encouraged by their
leaders to use their strengths and talents to make the best change ideas happen,
in ways that have a positive impact on others, are significantly more likely to
successfully create these changes and to have higher levels of wellbeing. When you
believe in what you’re doing, you can feel more creative and want to
contribute in ways that align with your strengths and talents, to make a
positive difference for others. It also supports people’s psychological needs
for autonomy, competence, and relatedness.
- Sustained by people’s willing
commitment – When
people willingly commit to implementing the changes their organization wants,
the change is significantly more successful, and workers are more likely to be
consistently thriving or living well despite struggles. When
people believe in what they’re doing, they’re internally motivated, they’re
naturally creative, they want to contribute, and they want to belong and feel
part of a community. As a result, self-organization takes place around the
actions people are passionate about and willing to take responsibility for in
order to be of service to others.
Want to know
what else we learned? Click here to download
your free copy of The Change Lab 2019 Workplace Survey.