Reducing Change Confusion and Saturation in an Organisation

Change Management

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Change Confusion and Saturation is a given in many organisations today. Organisations are now increasingly understanding that to grow, they have no choice but to change by adopting technological advancements and becoming agile. However, change fatigue is a real thing. 70% of employees Gartner surveyed indicated that they faced an increasing amount of change over the prior year. Of course, 2020 was unlike any other recent memory with nearly everyone being impacted on many levels in organisation due to the pandemic and changing work environments and requirements thrust upon them.

With so much change happening, some organisations can reach a saturation point and start feeling the negative effects of change. Change saturation occurs when the amount of change in your organisation exceeds people’s capacity to adapt and implement.

Change saturation can have several adverse effects, including jeopardising project success and increased levels of frustration and demotivation in employees who start feeling change fatigue. Organisational leaders who bring about change often think they cannot prevent change saturation since they cannot influence change in a dynamic business environment. They tell their employees to learn to cope with the increasing amount of change. However, leadership needs to mitigate the negative effects of change saturation if they do not want chronic job dissatisfaction among employees and high change initiative failure rates.

Often time, change saturation is caused by change confusion. Let’s find out how you can manage that.


Difference Between Change and Change Management

Many leaders use change and change management interchangeably; however, these things differ significantly from each other. In essence, change involves moving from an existing state to a future state, while change management is about supporting the people and organisations that have been impacted by the change.


When we talk about organisational change, it is the movement of an organisation from its present state, through an intermediate transition state, and to the desired future state. Examples of organisational change include mergers and acquisitions and launching a new product.

No matter what type of organisational change you are going through, every organisational change will ultimately affect its employees. In fact, the bigger the change, the more employees it will involve and this is where change management comes in.

Change Management

Change management is essential since it supports the people side of the organisation and helps the employees in an organisation do their job effectively while the business is in a state of transition. Many employees may be happy with the change, but there may by many more who regard it with apprehension. Some will be reluctant to adapt to change quickly.

With change management, leaders can provide the necessary tools, techniques and processes to support individuals in an organisation and adapt to the shifting organisation. Change management will also help leaders understand that structural and cultural change across the organization may also be necessary to support the change.

To reach a future state, the people in the organisation will need to work differently. This includes not only front-line staff, but also middle and executive managers, and sometimes even board members. The continued success of changes depends on every individual reaching their own personal future state by accepting and using the change. Thus, change management is a vital tool in delivering the desired results for the organisation.

Steps to Reduce Change Confusion

If you are a manager who is working to support individuals experiencing confusion around change and change management, there are many things you can do.

Identifying Change Confusion

Are some individuals in your organisation confused and struggling? If there is some confusion in the organisation, find out who it is affecting, whether its team members, team leaders, middle managers, executives, and business leaders.

Describing the States of Change

It is important that leaders introduce the states of change to the individuals and position change management as a solution to help effectively transition to this state. You can start by beginning your conversation about the current state of the organisation and what challenges and issues you are facing right now. Then, move your discussion to the transition stage and discuss how you aim to solve these issues by implementing changes. In the end, explain how these changes will improve the organisation and working environment in the future.

Asking Simple Questions

Determine the individuals who will be influenced by change and will need to do their job differently. This can help you segment the affected groups and figure out how to address their unique challenges from a change manager’s perspective.

By asking the right questions and helping answer them, you will be establishing a relationship right from the very start of the initiative, through the duration of the transition, to the final future state of your organisation.

Why Does Change Saturation Occur?

To stay competitive in today’s global economy, organisations need to undergo an increasing frequency of change, which can lead to change saturation in its people. As the number of changes spike, so does the pressure on the organisation. However, change saturation is often the result of some other contributing factors as well.

Focusing on Individual Results

Individual departments, groups, and projects often implement their changes simultaneously but are focused on driving their own results. In many cases, these departments and groups give little attention to other changes impacting the organisation, which can have an impact on the employees involved. And in fact this uncoordinated set of changes may result in inconsistencies across the organization, and even prevent some people from doing their jobs efficiently.

If the accumulative impact of these changes is not considered and remains unaddressed, the effect it can have on its people and the organisation can create a saturation point. The result is:

  • Fatigue and burnout, anxiety, confusion, stress, indifference, lack of engagement, distrust, and cynicism about the change;
  • For projects, change confusion can lead to a shortage of resources, poor delivery of project results, delays and missed deadlines, budget overruns, and insufficient support from senior managers;
  • The impact on the overall organisation can be long-lasting and costly, resulting in a poor working environment and low operational quality. Some signs include resistance to future change, low morale, lack of attention to operation, and a growing attitude that changes are not worthwhile.

Steps to Reduce Change Saturation

Change saturation occurs when there is so much happening that it negatively impacts the individuals in an organisation. As we mentioned above, this usually happens because change managers do not keep a portfolio view of all the changes happening in an organisation at the same time. So when a team only pays attention to their own business opportunity, they fail to see how their change will affect the other parts of the organisation.

Considering the increasing size and frequency of change in organisations, people are often faced with too much change to handle. Many organisations across the world are feeling saturated by change right now. In addition to the changes brought about by the pandemic, the dynamics in their industry and the uncertain economy has caused a growing pressure on many companies to change if they want to survive. Hence, it is important for senior leadership to consider how to reduce change saturation in the organisation.

Keeping Track of Significant Changes in the Organisation

An organisation should make a record of all the changes that are happening or are planned to happen in the organisation. You can use this portfolio to differentiate between non-optional and optional projects.

Non-optional or non-discretionary initiatives are ones that typically are made in response to changes in the external environment, like following mandated requirements of health regulatory agencies following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Discretionary changes, on the other hand, are caused by internal changes like the introduction of new technology, develop a product or service, or participating in an acquisition.

Analyzing and Managing Organisational Change

It is a prime responsibility of organisational leaders to manage the amount of change an organisation implements. To do this, it is important to evaluate every proposed change and find out how it contributes towards achieving the business strategy.

Organisations can then use the results to eliminate projects that do not align. They should also discard or postpone discretionary projects that cannot be effectively supported. This will allow you to create a prioritised and focused project portfolio from the remaining projects.

To mitigate change saturation, every member of the senior leadership team needs to be fully committed to successfully implement the change in the organisation. It is also particularly important that leaders be realistic about the organisation’s existing capacity for change.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has stretched the change capacity for many organisations but retaining some capacity for other unplanned or unexpected non-discretionary changes is strongly encouraged.

Using Structured Approaches for High-Risk Changes

Every organisation needs to develop a structured approach in case of a high-priority change initiative. It should include a risk assessment of people to determine what level of change management resources will be required and the effort that will be necessary to achieve your desired outcomes.

It is imperative that change managers are provided with dedicated resources and funding so that they have what is necessary to support a successful change.

Sponsoring Change Effectively

Even if the need for change is initially identified by front-line staff or managers, implementing change should be a top-down approach. It is important the senior leadership be the sponsors and public champions of change in the organisation in order to contribute to the success of change management projects.

With success comes increased confidence, which is one of the biggest factors in increasing organisational change capacity. Hence, sponsors must be visible and active during the transition, create support and communicate directly with the people in the organisation.

Sustaining Project Benefits

Instead of communicating the finish line on the initiative implementation date, leaders should set it on a date they expect to sustain achievement of the outcomes they desire. The change management plan for every project should include a sustainment stage as well.

This will ensure that the benefits provided by the project will continue once they have been achieved and will allow the project team to hand it off to the operational side of the organisation effectively.

Hence, it is important to structure the performance contracts of the executive team to reward them not just for achievement of a change, but also for long-term sustainment of the change and the realization of ongoing benefits.

Be on the Lookout for Change Saturation

Change leadership needs to meet regularly with the people in the organisation that are affected by the change so that they always stay in tune with the level of change saturation and the resulting change fatigue in the organisation, as this can affect several roles.

Hence, change managers need to meet with middle- and front-line managers who have change-impacted employees and ask them questions that reveal the awareness, knowledge, desire, and ability of their employees, to determine whether these managers will be effectively able to lead their teams through the transition.

Leadership should also engage effectively with front-line employees that are directly impacted by the existing changes and determine how well they are coping with the change and how effectively they are implementing it.

Change managers should also look at sponsors and project managers to find out whether they are collaborating to address the impacts from other initiatives in the organisation, such as changes that undercut or reduce the impact of other changes.

Key organisational health metrics, such as engagement scores, retention rate, and absenteeism all offer deep insight into whether employees are experiencing change fatigue. Monitoring and anticipating these potential adverse effects as you make plans for future changes can help you take a preemptive approach to issues before they even arise. In addition to working directly with different groups of employees, it is also important to review customer satisfaction data that indicates the impact of change on customers due to the initiative.

The Wrap Up

As change managers focus on each of the many projects that are being initiated in their organisation, they risk missing the cumulative impact of all these changes on the people in the organisation. By practising the above steps, you can create a solid action plan for reducing change saturation, increasing change capacity in your organisation and serve your role as an effective change manager.

If you want to learn how to effectively manage change in your organisation, we at EZY Skills can help you. We can help you increase the chances of a successful transition of your business by drawing on a range of professional approaches, enabling you to help people adjust to organisational change and implement change effectively. To learn more, contact us today at

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