More and more employees are difficult to motivate to actively support change programmes. According to Gartner HR-Webinar: Managing Change Fatigue, the willingness to support change in the company has almost halved from 74% of all employees in 2016 to only 43% in 2022. And at the same time, we know that the pressure to adapt is increasing. Available and affordable digital tools are changing our lives and our work at breathtaking speed. How do we master this balancing act? How do we take our employees with us on this high-speed journey without overwhelming them?

Our current adversary: change fatigue

Often, our employees were active in the change at the beginning, but frustrating experiences have since wiped out the enthusiasm:

  • The promised results did not happen and it was not communicated what the reason for this was.
  • False promises were made from the beginning. Now the trust has been lost.
  • One change had not been completed before the next one came along.
  • Every change has to be made in addition to the daily business. This is draining and there is no room to recharge the battery.

So we urgently need something that can interrupt the downward spiral and give us new energy for change. And the best energy for this we find in ourselves, in our needs and our motivation.

A first step towards releasing this energy could be 5 curious questions.

5 Energy-releasing questions

In coaching, we use questions to make something resonate in our counterpart, to create a reaction. It is about helping a person to better determine their own point of view, to see their inner attitude to a topic and their own goal more clearly. When we know what is important to us and why, we can more quickly explore our options, make decisions and take action.

1. What would we have to do to drive this change fully against the wall?

(Release energy against the change) This question releases the tension and gives us the opportunity to let go of all the negative energy that has built up against the change. We think about how we could actively sabotage this change and realise that the mere failure to participate can lead to the failure of the whole project. On the one hand, this question releases stress and, on the other, makes us sensitive to all actions that damage the project. They are virtually open on the table and everyone can see them. Our unconscious is now sensitised to them, will continue to evaluate these actions as "not good" and warn us about them as the project progresses. Since most of us want to be liked and recognised by others, we will therefore refrain from obviously harmful behaviour.

2. If continuing as before is not an option, what is our next best option?

(Drawing energy from the recognition of experience and expertise)Yes, what are the options? This question opens the mind and invites us to become active ourselves and look for options. If the options are presented to us on a silver platter and then even evaluated for us, there is little to be gained. We "receive" the messages and are "the victim" of the system. "Well, there's nothing we can do about it anyway..." would be a typical indication for such an inner attitude. In change, however, we don't want to be victims, but rather actors. And we want to approach the matter in a multi-perspective and diverse way in order to find the best possible solution. That is why the question of options is of considerable importance!

3. What would be the best possible change for us as a team?

(Activate energy for the best option)
Often it quickly emerges from the team discussion that continuing is not an option either. All available arguments and information are used and combined as constructively as possible. In the process, the different perspectives in the team come into play just as much as the different motives and priorities. The discussion already releases real energy for change. As a result, we get a consensus and an assessment of the overall situation, with the corresponding options. Solutions are therefore already mentally prepared.

4. Unter welchen Umständen könnten wir das für uns beste Ergebnis realisieren?

(Energie durch eine realistische Perspektive hinzugewinnen)
Kollegen/*innen mit viel „Beharrungsvermögen“ werden an dieser Stelle einwenden, das „das sowieso nicht geht, weil…“. Sie wollen die theoretische Lösung mit der praktischen Erfahrung aus der Vergangenheit zusammen bringen und da sind ja auch schon Veränderungen fehlgeschlagen. Deshalb ist hier wichtig, weiter konstruktiv und vorwärtsorientiert zu Denken. Die Frage „Unter welchen Umständen..“ setzt dazu den idealen Rahmen. Sie stellt nicht mehr in Frage, ob… sondern fragt nach dem Wie. Wie kann es funktionieren? Welche Voraussetzungen müssten geschaffen werden? Auch hier wird das Team sich in der Diskussion selbst regulieren und zum Schluss eine Liste realistischer Voraussetzungen zusammentragen, die sie in die Lage versetzen, die anstehenden Veränderungen umzusetzen. Diese Liste ist von unschätzbarem Wert für jede Führungskraft, die dieses Team durch den Change führen will! Ich selbst habe mit dieser Frage ausgesprochen gute Erfahrungen gemacht!

5. Who is needed to do this?

(Increase energy through togetherness and recognition)
This question signals two things at once, firstly "You are not alone" and secondly "You have to be specific about what you need". Feeling supported in the change and being allowed to ask for help often removes further blockages and strengthens the self-confidence to be able to cope with this change. Many of us do not have the reflex to look at who can best help me here. We think that the request is directed specifically at us and are so focused that we quickly overlook other helping hands. Together it becomes easier and the burden a little lighter for everyone. Together, change becomes feasible. Moreover, asking for support means recognition for the person being asked, which in turn is a source of positive energy.
Win-win! This and the previous question also activate self-responsibility. If we do not name what we need here, we should not be surprised if something is missing later. We will therefore seize this opportunity and are thus already mentally in the implementation process. From here to action planning is now only a small step.


In change processes, leading through questions is enormously powerful. These questions cannot alleviate the overburdening of employees. But they can ensure that the perceived effort is targeted and in efficient, coordinated tracks. "Unseen services" and unnecessary efforts were reduced in the discussion about the optimal adaptation strategy. Acceptance of the upcoming change activities has increased because they represent the best and most efficient way forward for everyone. This reduces the friction energy. So it is important that we and our employees perceive our signals, articulate frustration and also what need is actually behind it. We must be allowed to say under which circumstances this change can only work and: we must make a decision to actively work for our best solution!

You can get bitter or you can get better – it’s your choice!

(Cassandra Worthy, Change Enthusiast)

Links to helpful tools or downloads:

Global trends up to 2030 and the EU's assessments of necessary changes:

Gartner Research & Webinar on current change fatigue and possible countermeasures:

Casandra Worthy talks about 3 steps for more personal change enthusiasm:

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