Blog-10-31-19

6 Ways to Master Change Management

Technology adoption is usually referenced in terms of its curve—think of the smooth arc illustrating the slow and steady adoption of technology like the automobile or landline telephone.1 But with the current rate of technology change—introduction to ubiquity happens in the blink of an eye—it’s no longer an adoption curve, but an adoption rocket.2

This acceleration is not limited to consumer tech—businesses are faced with the same pressure to expedite technology adoption. Spiceworks’ 2020 State of IT Report shows that 44 percent of businesses plan to increase their IT budgets in 2020 by an average of 18 percent year over year. As a result, many organizations will have the ability to implement emerging technologies in the workplace.

From arc to rocket: How tech adoption has changed over the past century. Click to enlarge.

To keep up, organizations need to master change management—they must thoroughly comprehend it and expertly execute it. Easier said than done? Not necessarily, especially if they approach change initiatives with preparation and purpose.

Preparation includes multiple considerations, including first-hand experience, assistance from experts, and insight from organizations that have already carried out change initiatives—whether successful or unsuccessful.

With that in mind, here are three missteps to avoid when implementing change:

  1. Overlooking the role of the individual Many organizations fail to recognize that people are at the heart of change. Research from McKinsey & Company shows that 70 percent of complex, large-scale change programs don’t reach their stated goals. The most common reasons cited include low employee engagement, lack of management support, and nonexistent or insufficient cross-functional collaboration. With successful transformations, the common factor is that the change is motivated by empowerment, rather than C-suite directives.
  2. Using a return-on-investment (ROI) argument as the reason for the change Without a doubt,the main reason companies implement technology change is to achieve organizational goals. But for change to be effective, it must appeal to individual needs and goals. Employees need to know how the change will affect them, today and in the future. What new opportunities will it create for them? How will the change enable them to be more productive, efficient, and innovative?
  3. Trying to stick to a rigid plan Very few things in life go according to plan, especially those that require cooperation among large groups of people. A strategic plan is important, but agility is critical to any change management effort. Leave room for redirection, continuously monitor the initiative, and intervene when necessary.

In addition to preparation, change efforts also require purpose to be successful. Here are three ways to create positive, purposeful outcomes:

  1. Convince employees to embrace the change. Explain why the change is coming, what’s in it for them,
  2. Provide them with tools and training. Ensure employees have what they need throughout the technology adoption lifecycle—foundational learning early on, advanced training as they become more comfortable with the technology, and ongoing support to keep them up to speed with changes.
  3. Help them build agility and resilience. Constant change is now the norm—make sure your employees have the resources they need to deal with uncertainties. Practice optimism.

For organizations today, the question is not IF they will experience resistance to change—that’s a given—but instead HOW they will support their employees to overcome resistance and develop the skills they need to thrive in the face of change. Which approach will you take?

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1. As illustrated in the line graph above, adoption of technology like the automobile or landline telephone increased slowly over time. Adoption of technology today happens much more quickly—it’s no longer represented as a curve, but rather a slightly slanted vertical line. Source: Our World In Data2. “3 Vital Skills for the Age of Disruption,” by Karthik Krishnan, World Economic Forum, Sept. 30, 2019

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