#1 Build a culture of employee responsiveness
- Responsive teams are at least 20% more likely to overperform against key goals
- While 9 in 10 employees say they are ready and willing to be responsive, only 4 in 10 are responsive in practice
The key to an agile organisation is not just strategy or intent – it is a responsive workforce that feels empowered and driven. Frontline employees taking the initiative to drive change elevates the success of organisational transformations from around 30 percent to 71 percent.
This points to workplace culture as a key driver not just for factors typically associated with it – such as engagement and retention – but for organisational change. Building an environment that actively celebrates responsiveness and encourages employees to feel invested in the business is a central element of making organisational change stick.
While culture cannot be enforced from the top down, leaders should consider how embracing flexibility and altering incentive structures could help them improve the responsiveness of their teams; they should also consider how they communicate their vision for change.
#2 Integrate technology into culture
- 76 percent of executives agree that organisations need to dramatically reengineer the experiences that bring technology and people together in a more human-centric way³
- Most companies are using technology to modernise their existing business model instead of transforming it
While COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption, the next step is to find more effective ways of integrating technology into a positive, productive workplace culture. Organisational agility cannot be fully realised without a strong culture, and for many companies technology presents a challenge to that.
Technology is a necessary part of organisational change, but organisational change is equally a necessary part of technological
adoption. While technology clearly enables greater responsiveness and agility, it can also create disengagement – which clearly decreases both.
The answer then is to look at digital transformation not purely as a technological, but also an HR initiative. Rather than asking technical questions, leaders should focus on the human problems of digital: how can you build trust and team morale in the digital space? What sorts of technology will enhance collaboration and team-spirit?
#3 Develop new leadership approaches
- Company-wide change efforts are 12.4 times more likely to be successful when senior managers communicate continually
- When senior leaders role model the behaviour changes they’re asking employees to make, transformations are 5.3 times more likely to be successful
In Gartner’s 2021 survey of 800 HR professionals, the most common reason given for difficulties making organisational change happen was ‘our managers aren’t equipped to lead changes.’30 Less a complaint, this was merely an acknowledgement that what is required of leaders is rapidly changing – and most cannot keep up.
In many cases, organisations will benefit from a dispersed model, where responsibilities are spread across departments and seniority levels, so that more direct personal attention can be paid at every level. However, there is still a case for strong centralised leadership in certain facets of change management.
For example, leaders can focus on modelling and championing the kind of responsiveness and openness to change that they wish to see in their employees. Equally, the status of senior leaders can help amplify key messages, and organisations that utilise this fact will produce far more effective internal communication.
#4 Measure change, and your response to it
- Organisation currently use just 29 percent of the metrics they claim to follow in change efforts
- 69 percent of employees say the benefits of organisational change is not clear because it is not measured against a benchmark
While it is commonly claimed that change management initiatives have a high rate of failure, the truth is many organisations simply do not have a robust sense of how successful their initiatives have been. This is because they don’t put enough emphasis on measurement.
Organisational restructuring tends to be extremely complex – and takes a long time – so it is not always clear what should be measured or how best to do so. This not only makes the results unclear – it impacts the motivation of individuals involved.
What employers measure directly impacts how employees perform. Leaders who are serious about improving their organisation’s agility and bringing about real change should therefore look to develop metrics for success in order to directly track how well their change management initiatives are faring – and adjust their actions accordingly.
#5 Reimagine the flexible workforce
- 70% of executives plan to hire more temporary workers in the next two years
- In December 2020, billings from temporary recruitment rose at the sharpest rate since October 2018
An increasing number of organisations are finding traditional approaches to staffing are inflexible, creating numerous stark inefficiencies. Reimagining the workforce to include a blend of permanent and temporary workers may hold the key to balancing stability with flexibility, helping to achieve the ideal level of agility.
However, such a transformation presents numerous challenges: how will organisations ensure their temporary staff are reliable and skilled? How will they preserve their workplace culture? How will they manage regulatory requirements?
If businesses can resolve these challenges, a flexible workforce will enable them to increase their agility whilst actively growing –
a set of aspirations ordinarily considered to be at odds.
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