Digitization – what about the people?
Is mankind being displaced by ever more intelligent and better networked robots?
Radical upheavals throw all business models into chaos, communication is often predominant via social networks instead. However, the employees and their needs are often not considered until it is too late. But it is just those severely affected employees who should be brought on board from the outset so that they can contribute to change processes. To understand any emerging resistance on the part of employees, managers should try and put themselves in the shoes of the individuals concerned, in order to be able to incorporate their needs or concerns in advance. Changes in the course of the digital transformation elicit fear and associated resistance among many employees. Therefore, a strategically well-thought-out and professionally executed change management should involve the employees, to prevent steamrolling them with the digital wave. The modified processes and transformations should be seen as an opportunity and not as a threatening change.
Organisational changes will only be successful if a significant number of employees support and go along with them. Accordingly, the efforts of change management should be tailored to the individual divisions. To make sure that they are, where appropriate, not only disruptive but also effective, the necessary initiatives should be designed so that they meet not only economic needs but also those of the employees.
A holistic approach is required
The head of digitization, whether it is the CDO, CIO or even the CEO, needs to deal with the requirements that are demanded, in this case, by the individual employees. The company changes caused by the digital transformation require much more than just the use of new technologies. It requires a culture that is open to experiments and, even in the event of failure, doesn’t fall back into old routines. The focus of business decisions must also be on customer needs and customer behaviour. Moreover, the rate of change plays an important role in the corporate culture. Digitization is driven by speed; this is also reflected in everyday business.
Employees react differently to modifications within an existing organisation. There are those who are open and support them, but there are also those who are undecided and are dismissive of all new projects. Resistance is often due to the fact that employees have no real understanding of the innovations or changes and don’t know what will happen to them.
A key prerequisite for the conversion to digital is a clear, overall strategy, well-networked measures and permanent responsibilities in the company. A holistic approach that acts as a central theme running throughout the corporate realignment should be the basis for every company that is digitising.
Digitization has multiple effects within the company
Digitization affects day-to-day business in many ways. For example, there will be new job profiles, internal communication and decision-making processes will change, working times and locations will – in certain cases – become more flexible, the IT structure, and maybe also the strategy, will be realigned and many other areas will feel the clear implications of digitization.
In summary: It is important to integrate digitisation into the corporate strategy and corporate culture and involve the employees in the transformation process at an early stage, where appropriate, offer further training and qualifications, and not to steamroller them with the digital wave!
Andreas Wartenberg is a Managing Director of Hager Unternehmensberatung and has been an executive search consultant for nearly 25 years, filling management positions in the technology sector and other industries. He set up and led national and international teams before joining Hager Unternehmensberatung as a Managing Director in 2008. He is a leading topic expert in the DACH region in regards to all aspects of technology management and digitization within all type of corporations
Hager Unternehmensberatung GmbH
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