An HR Leader's Guide to Sustaining the Business in a Disruptive Digital World
By Marianne Langlois, Global Process Executive, NGA Human Resources
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Navigating the rapid changes that result from disruptive technologies is important to every department, but HR's ability to manage the way workforces interact with disruption impacts a business' foreseeable trajectory. An HR leader's role in helping effectively manage the workforce is closely tied to change management and employee engagement practices. Both can be negatively impacted by disruptive technologies such as cloud computing or social networking.
The First Step
Even if you are not the decision maker for introducing a disruptive technology to your organization, it's important that you understand the answers to the following questions. These will help you determine the right strategy for introducing change and ensuring employee engagement.
1. What problem is the business trying to solve, and will the disruptive technology address it? Disruptive technologies are most effective when there are existing, defined internal processes that can be enhanced by the new solution.
2. How will the disruptive technology benefit the users of the solution? Employees need to believe the solution will make their life easier before they'll be willing to embrace it.
3. Will the disruptive technology serve a variety of employee needs? Different departments may use the solution in different ways. Make sure you're clear that the solution has the flexibility needed to address these multiple needs.
4. How usable will the disruptive technology be? You should ensure that the functionality that employees use the most can be provided.
5. How will the business measure success? Do not just account for typical metrics such as number of users. Also consider what you are trying to achieve when defining key metrics.
Introducing Change to the Organization
There are many successful models for implementing change. Each model comes with pros and cons that must be weighed in determining the right approach for your business. The most important aspect of introducing change is to have a plan and follow it, adjusting the plan as risks and issues are identified along the way. The reason for using a change management methodology is that it helps increase the chances of a business staying on budget and on schedule, which in turn leads to higher ROI and realization of benefits.
One important aspect of successful change is to ensure you are focusing on outcomes and benefits. This is the central theme of most change-management models. Regardless of the model you use, the four steps below provide general guidelines in putting in place actions that can help you successfully navigate any change as a result of disruptive technology.
Step 1: Align on vision, and commit. It's important to clarify the case for change. Establish and communicate the vision so the organization understands the key connection points. Leadership must commit to the success of the change.
Step 2: Plan, align and mobilize. Develop an overall game plan focused on aligning and mobilizing the organization. Determine the specific things you will do to introduce the change. Assess the organization's readiness to change. Define what success will look like for different stakeholders. Establish a governance process to maintain focus on outcomes, scope, risk and priorities.
Step 3: Design and implement. Ensure all employees affected by the change understand the business case. You must gain commitment from stakeholders and users, establish project plans, and track actions and training. Communicate clearly and often. Ensure benefits are achieved and delivered.
Step 4: Enhance and evolve. Monitor success criteria in order to determine effectiveness, provide ongoing training and continuously improve.
Keys to Employee Engagement
* Communicating the reason for change is not enough. Leadership must take the time to reinforce the messages and model the desired behaviors.
* Create project teams that include the right level of leadership and subject matter experts.
* Define and manage all stakeholders and their needs, including what a "win" will look like to each stakeholder group.
* Involve users in the change process. Conduct focus groups, demonstrate the solution and ask them to participate in testing.
* Ensure knowledge and skills are transferred. You must be clear on what will be required once the change is in place, and plan appropriate time for users to gain that knowledge and any new skills they'll need to be effective.
* Continue to monitor effectiveness of training after the change. No matter how intuitive the new solution is, not all users will learn and adopt at the same pace. Provide a variety of options for the learning to be absorbed.