In today's business climate, companies that want to stay competitive need to continuously deploy new technologies. However, it is critical that new technologies are introduced in an employee-friendly manner. Read this interview with Tina Škerlj, an expert in change management consulting, to learn why this is so important. What are the most common challenges encountered when implementing technological change?
According to a Boston Consulting Group study of more than 825 global companies, only around 30% of organisations successfully implement digital transformation. How can we improve?
- It is critical that the company has a clear vision and strategy of what it wants to achieve by introducing technological change as well as major business objectives. For this to happen, it is essential that the company's management is on the same page and shares the vision of why a business requires digital transformation.
- Companies seldom consider why they require new technology. They should think about what benefits does the organization anticipate from digitalization or the deployment of new technologies.
- It is important that companies establish, clarify and focus on key priorities. Too many priorities can cause a company to not follow through.
- The plan for implementing technology change should be explicit and include the following information: the person responsible for implementing changes, the timeframe and what the added value of the change will be. It is important to thoroughly evaluate the required investment, both in terms of human and financial resources, and the benefit to the company.
- Controlling and monitoring the implementation of changes is critical for ensuring effective deployment. Management has a key role to play in this and is responsible for helping with any challenges or issues.
- Companies fail to see that the primary barrier to change is personnel rather than technology. Change management and communication are equally important, as is support for employees. It is important that employees understand the improvements and their importance and that their participation and involvement in the process must be encouraged. Who will have to deal with the changes and how will people learn about them? How will people overcome their fear of change? People prefer to stick to what they know.
At the moment, many are wondering whether technology will fully replace them entirely and whether their fears are justified. Could this concern be rooted in the lack of understanding about how to use technology to improve work processes?
Employees need to be made aware that new technologies will help them. It is important to realize that new developments can be scary for employees, so companies need to recognise and address this fear and offer employees the right information and support them as they adapt to changes.
Of course, changing a company’s culture always begins with management. If the CEO still prints everything on paper, they cannot expect their employees to do better. Management must act as a role model and encourage innovation, train employees, hire people who are already familiar with these technologies, mentor people and incentivise them through rewards.
Technology is just a tool that helps us do our jobs more efficiently and effectively. The main issue is that companies often focus on technology, while failing to pay enough attention to the people and processes they want to improve. However, in the future, technology will mostly replace routine and repetitive work. One such example are accounting tasks, where the rules of posting are clearly defined. In cases like these, technology can make a significant contribution in terms of improving efficiency and productivity. On the other hand, activities that require holistic, complex and multi-faceted thinking will continue to rely heavily on humans. Here, technology cannot fully replace the human mind and experience. Employees must grasp how technology can help improve work processes, while also acknowledging that the human factor is still invaluable when it comes to tackling more complex problems.
What are the key steps in making people-friendly changes?
Many use John Kotter's methodology as the bible of change management, emphasizing the need to create an environment for change, define a clear goal, and select proactive people who will drive change.
- Companies need to create an environment for change at the outset. In other words, employees must be aware that change is needed.
- To effect change, a company must have a team of proactive employees from various levels and teams who believe in and understand why change is needed and who are the driving force behind the change.
- The company needs to have an actionable vision of what its objectives are and what will they accomplish. Here’s an example: In 3 years' time, AI will be handling all the repetitive tasks, so we need to refocus our people to other activities.
- Change needs to be communicated consistently and employees need to be encouraged to change.
- All projects need to have resources allocated to them - this includes human, financial and other resources.
- Quick wins or short-term goals and desired results to be achieved within two or three months need to be defined for all projects. This motivates people and encourages them to act.
- The company should gradually build on past changes by adding new projects.
Should we, as a society, spend more time raising awareness about the humane transition to a new technological age?
Yes, as a society we need to focus more on examples of good practice and raise awareness of how important the transition to a new technological era really is. The media frequently focuses on negative examples of technology abuse rather than on positive stories that highlight the opportunities provided by new technologies. People often fear that new developments will threaten their jobs, so it is critical to provide them with the necessary support and information that will reduce their fear of change.
Fear of technology is nothing new. Looking back, history has several examples of people rejecting technology that is now a part of our daily lives. Some examples of this are electricity, telephones and television. In the 1980s, there was widespread “computerphobia”, or fear of computers. Now, more than 50 years later, we can't imagine life without computers.