Many leaders will associate the implementation of change in their organization with elevated levels of stress, frustration and anxiety. These pressures, combined with a typical staff reduction that often requires leaders to accomplish more with less, can lead to personal burnout.
Change management, as incorporated in many organizational plans and strategies, often leads to personal burnout, as rather than take small, incremental steps that allow organizations to evolve. Many will stagnate and resist change until the company is severely threatened and must make huge, destabilizing adjustments to survive.
It is important for leaders to understand that large, overwhelming changes will typically shake up the entire organization as wholesale modifications occur in the way business is conducted. The process is time intensive and traumatic for everyone involved. People require time to recuperate after the event is over; wholesale changes often result in personal burnout.
Undoubtedly, quick and/or frequent change can lead to burnout. However, even in the face of ongoing change, leaders can use the strategies outlined in this section to defend against burnout and frustration.
Part of the Job
Effective leaders accept that change is a normal function associated with their jobs. In this way, change is no longer perceived as an event that threatens the organization, but simply a normal function of everyday business activity.
Leaders who embrace change plan small, incremental adjustments that help their organization slowly evolve and adapt. As a result, the company will eventually see an increase in productivity and efficiency. All it takes is a change in the leader’s perception to reduce the stress and pressures that he or she once associated with organizational change.
Anticipate Rather Than Resist
When people oppose change in their organization, they end up focusing their energy on resistance rather than acceptance. This focus saps the energy required to maintain productivity and effectiveness, which ultimately leads to burnout.
On the other hand, leaders who accept and anticipate change learn to harness its momentum to their benefit and use that energy to enact change throughout the organization, producing positive outcomes and results.
When organizations implement wholesale changes out of necessity, it can be overwhelming. Many of these changes include layoffs, which increase the intensity of the situation and overburden the leader. In turn, stress and anxiety levels go up, resulting in personal burnout.
However, when leaders plan for ongoing change, adjustments are made in small, incremental steps that allow the organization to transform itself on its own terms. Once done, wholesale organizational change is eliminated, as is the stress and intensity of change.
The incorporation of small, incremental changes into daily activities allows the organization to grow and evolve while simultaneously increasing productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. The incremental nature of change allows leaders to build it seamlessly into the organizational culture.
When the organization accepts change as a daily occurrence, leaders don’t really feel pressured nor do they experience high levels of personal stress and anxiety. This greatly reduces personal burnout.
Leaders that learn to accept and incorporate change into their daily responsibilities also learn the value of experimenting with new ideas and concepts. They discover that small changes can be tested with minimal impact and that lessons can be learned from all successes and failures. These lessons are ultimately incorporated into adaptations made by the organization.
Experimentation also helps leaders reduce risks associated with change. And less risk equals less stress, frustration and anxiety—all of which are associated with burnout.
Excerpt: Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD