Implementing business change in the digital age: The challenges & how your organisation can overcome them

By Emily Richter, Managing Consultant at Credera (UK)

With the unprecedented pace of technology advancements, globalisation, and innovation, Credera has noticed that markets are being disrupted by forward-thinking, pioneering, and adaptive organisations. After 178 years of existence, we saw one of the UK’s long-standing travel agency companies, Thomas Cook, file for bankruptcy in 2019. Fundamentally, the company was unable to innovate and respond to customers’ changing technological requirements. Another example saw Kodak falling behind the digital era and Blockbuster was overtaken by Netflix.

These are a couple of examples of well-known organisations who revealed their inability to swiftly respond to evolving market conditions and adapt to the times. The companies that triggered their downfall – the Apples and Googles of this world – were miles ahead of the curve, reimagining their business models, structure, and internal processes to provide an offering that satisfied their digital customer base. The organisations who adapt to the ever-changing external environment will reap the rewards. This article highlights, in Credera’s experience, three key obstacles that hinder an organisation from successfully embedding change.

What are the challenges of implementing business change?

Many organisations face three issues which can impact embedding organisational change:

1. Low staff morale

A common cause of low staff morale is change fatigue, leading to weariness, scepticism, and disengagement of staff.

Change fatigue can also be the result of the amount of work provided to employees and an expectation of staff to adopt new working patterns, roles, skills, and behaviours. It can manifest itself around a transformation programme that has not been seen through to completion or a change programme being discarded to make way for the next. Consequently, staff become increasingly frustrated and morale declines.

How can organisations overcome this?

To overcome low staff morale, we recommend that organisations introduce systems to spot the early warning signs of change fatigue. For example, management need to ensure they actively listen to employees who are confused or unsure about any planned change.

It is also recommended that management consider the culture of the organisation before deciding which business change model to adopt.

Management should also look to deploy an appropriate leadership style based on what the workforce needs, and provide staff recognition, emotional intelligence, and two-way communication. Research suggests these factors have the biggest effect on engagement and morale.

2. Poor communication & stakeholder interaction

Poor communication and stakeholder interaction often results in project failure. This can lead to several common issues, including:

 

How can organisations overcome this?

From the beginning, management needs to develop and deploy a communications strategy to enable effective stakeholder engagement. The outcomes of doing so will enable the company to build strong working relationships and create a transparent working environment. This could be through:

 

3. Conflicting business priorities

A conflict in business priorities is a common obstacle for organisations wanting to implement change. It can result in the following challenges:

How can organisations overcome this?

From the outset, management should be clear on the business priority. This needs to be communicated from the top to ensure staff understand their responsibilities.

Keeping the business running will take precedence and there is a need for management to understand that internal change programmes may need to be paused as staff are directed to focus on their BAU role.

In a nutshell

In an era of technological advancements where change is inevitable, Leeds-based technology organisations must constantly reinvent themselves to survive. The trick is to cultivate a flexible organisational mindset that will embrace change now and in the future.

Leeds firms will need to actively work with staff to discuss the benefits of the change and why it is needed. They will also need to deploy a robust communication strategy and plan, ensuring staff feedback is regularly collected and addressed. Finally, organisations should aim to balance priorities and recognise staff who support the company’s strategic goals.

The importance of recognising the key challenges associated with embedding change cannot be underestimated and this is essential for organisations to address. As former CEO of GE, Jack Welch once said, “if the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”

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