In the midst of the digital age, many companies are finding that they are grappling with implementing aspects of the customer-centric experience. However, employee centricity is becoming increasing important, especially during a company’s transition into a digital workplace, making clear communication crucial.

Embracing change in the digital age

As a company embarks on the journey to shift perceptions and embrace change, it is important for its leadership to answer the following questions:

  • What does this change mean for employees, particularly for change management practitioners?
  • Will the principles of change management applied in the past be valid the following year?
  • Should the company be driving the generally accepted principle of allocating consultants to manage the change, when the digital age is proving to be a way of ‘being’ rather than a change?
  • What type of culture, mindset and behaviour does the company need to adopt to boldly welcome this new way of being?
  • What will the South African (and perhaps global) workforce look like in a fully functional digital environment?

Company leadership, as in all aspects of transformation, is central to developing this picture, and preparing the workforce for the road ahead. The areas that the leaders themselves grapple with are equally important, from assessing the technological landscape to preparing for full digitisation.

What about the employee experience of this change?

During this time, it is critical to remember that the employee is at the centre of digitising the environment; they are the user and driver of all aspects within this environment. This underpins the importance of clearly defining the employee experience of this change and effectively communicating the new organisational structure. This then propels a majority, if not all, of a company’s strategy-driven initiatives going forward. The ability of the workforce to buy-in quickly and be engaged consistently as the company takes various forms is critical.

Bring the change: Become a disrupter in your industry

Not every company needs to take on Amazon’s culture; they should look instead at industry disrupters, such as Uber which transformed the taxi industry. Uber is a prime example of how urban logistics operate via a technological solution. Companies should not be waiting for their industry’s version of Uber or AirBnB to come along – it is time to take action and become the next industry disrupter, creating customer-centric solutions.

More importantly, business leaders should aggressively develop employee- or owner-centric companies that can stand the test of time. This means that project change management is slowly becoming extinct and has limited use in a digital environment. Instead, a new age of managing change is necessary, requiring technologies that hold critical information about the workforce.

Change management should not be operating on a project level; in fact, it influences the strategic phase of defining a digital workplace. It provides valuable input about what workforce behaviours will look like, and what mindsets needs to be developed for successful change. The overall company culture, therefore, becomes the driver of successful digitisation.

Ultimately it is not important how many projects a company implements during the move to digitisation or how the change management practitioner will deliver in these silos. Of far more importance is how prepared for a digital environment the company is at a strategic level, and that this change is driven by its leadership.

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