By Elizabeth Hargrave
Business Development Manager @ Hectre
Part two of “Beating the Drag of Change in Ag” is directed to those wondering how feelings and emotions affect their bottom line. How about a simple pass/fail test? Let’s take a step back and see why it’s so important to acknowledge where people are at before asking them to make changes.
If your family and workers are experiencing extreme change fatigue, you can guarantee changes you introduce to your operation will, at best, either require significantly more time to successfully implement or at worst, fail, due to lack of motivation.
We can guarantee that the amount and speed of changes will not slow over time. We can also guarantee that everyone will experience and react to change in very different ways. This is a good thing! Successful change efforts require the dreamers and innovators, the doers, the naysayers, and everyone in between.
So why is stopping and focusing on how to address change fatigue in us and our employees so important to recognize? Isn’t it a downer?
Not really. There’s a difference between acknowledging reality, and wallowing.
Before you get to the positives of introducing a change, meet others where they are.
How do you do this? First, you acknowledge their reality and discomfort with adding more change. Help others know you hear them and don’t minimize their feelings. Those extra food safety rules? The extra work you took on when the head fieldman retired earlier this year? Yes. They are a doozy.
- Acknowledging reality (good!): Listening to and recognizing change fatigue shows you care. Once people feel heard, they are more open to new ideas.
- Wallowing or leading people to the negative (bad!): Wallowing in self-pity, or keeping your peers and employees down in their pit of despair by talking about the negatives constantly, will not help.
Why is there so much change fatigue in agriculture? For starters, change is easier for businesses who aren’t at the center of an industry full of rules and regulations. With agriculture, it takes a little time. Change also takes time in other highly-regulated industries of finance and insurance. There’s less agility built into the industry.
What do we do about it? The good news is that you can read the signs of change fatigue and reset the narrative at any time. It’s the perfect time to reassess your priorities and communicate honestly and authentically with your employees. The key to a successful change effort is to start with your people.
- Get non-leaders involved in the direction and creation of the new future.
- Have a clear starting point for each change.
- Acknowledge the ambiguous transitional period.
- Communicate a clear result/endpoint for the change to help people to better cope with it.
What if I’m already done with my major changes? What can I do?
Good news! You can still implement some form of the last three suggestions at any point during any change. One of the beautiful things about acknowledging an ever-changing environment is that you can use it as a reminder at any time to reset and recognize the hard work that your employees put in. Eventually, more changes will come and creating an appreciative environment will lay a positive foundation for those changes.
A few examples below of how to engage or re-engage during a change:
If you’ve made it to the end and you’re thinking:
What if I’m not the leader or owner of a farm?
No matter where you stand in the organization, it’s always good to approach these times of change with authentic, open communication. It’s tough at first, especially if things are confusing and not well communicated.
Remember that most changes will be new to everyone, including your managers and leaders. Cut them some slack, but make sure to clarify and ask what the priorities are at any given moment if you feel there’s too much going on. Model the transparency you want to see in leaders. Your managers and leaders may not realize what you’re going through because they are processing the change as well.
That’s good information, I want more! Stay tuned for future posts about change. This is part of a series. Have any particular questions or suggestions for topics? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.