Forbes Insights: Three Key Principles Of Change Management
Disruptive technologies are forever changing the way employees work and organizations function. Automation is helping manufacturers reach record-high levels of production. Wearable devices are redefining doctor-patient relationships. And lawyers are using data analytics to predict case outcomes.
Yet successful digital transformation hinges on an organization’s ability to embrace change. According to a Forbes Insights and PMI survey of more than 500 executives, 85% of respondents say change management is critical to their success in these times of disruption. No longer can workers simply react to change in a highly competitive marketplace. Rather, they must prepare for seismic shifts in the way they lead teams, manage projects and address ambiguities.
That’s not easy. A Pew Research study reveals that 48% of experts “envision a future in which robots and digital agents have displaced significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers.” The prospect of massive job losses, and the high speed of change, can cause “fear and concern” among employees, warns John Gikopoulos, Global Head of AI and Automation at Infosys Consulting. “It’s just a human reaction to something that’s moving faster than employees can keep up with,” he says.
In fact, more than a third—38%—of Forbes Insights survey respondents say their employees see change as too much of a threat. Fortunately, there are steps C-level executives and project leaders can take to manage disruption and ensure employees embrace automation, artificial intelligence and other innovative technologies—without affecting workforce morale. Here’s how.
1. Rise to the occasion: C-level executives must play an active role in shaping employee attitudes toward change. Approaches include open and direct communication and sanctioning incentive programs to encourage adoption. In fact, 84% of those surveyed by Forbes Insights view CEOs as champions of change, the driving force behind a culture that supports organizational agility and embraces new technologies. C-level technology executives also can play a role in digital transformation success: Eight in 10 respondents credit COOs and CTOs for recognizing the importance of the role of change management in disruption.
2. Recast the role of project managers: The role of project managers is evolving. Today’s organizations are modifying project managers’ core skills sets, requiring them to acquire subject matter expertise and delivery standards that are beyond major certifications. No longer burdened by mundane routines, they are free to spearhead strategy delivery. With this increased responsibility comes rightful ownership of digital transformation—an opportunity for project leaders to rally employees around emerging technologies and encourage a greater understanding of their business outcomes.
3. Foster a supportive change culture: Organizations that support frequent change are better able to compete and succeed in a fast-paced and disruptive business environment. Luckily, there are a number of ways to foster such a culture. Embracing a startup mindset can help organizations expand their use of disruptive technologies. This means encouraging employees to think like entrepreneurs, allowing for greater experimentation and rewarding curiosity.
Hiring new talent can also contribute to a culture that supports change. With the right people, organizations can amplify expertise and build knowledge—critical ingredients for transitioning to new sectors. And then there’s organizational agility. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, chief talent scientist at ManpowerGroup, organizations should “adopt an agile or lean approach to developing products and services”—a cultural shift that allows for faster response times to changes in customer demand and market trends.
Certainly, change initiatives can be time-consuming and costly. But for those that take up the challenge, the rewards are plentiful. In fact, high-performing companies are defined by their ability to embrace a culture that supports constant transformation. By approaching change management with a disciplined approach, and overseeing it effectively, organizations can use disruptive technology to pull ahead of their competition.
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