The Human Impact of Rapid Tech Change
Companies are increasingly utilizing automation technologies to increase productivity and innovation. These companies find themselves managing complex organizational change, with challenges that will vary depending on the professional levels and geographic diversity of their human resources. Successful implementation of any change agenda, whether it is new software applications, process, or organization, is dependent on human resources. What I like to refer to as the “people side of change.”
Most change agendas fail due to the underestimation of the human impact, rather than the technology or process impact. When individuals do not fully grasp the “why, what, and how” of the change, it can stall or—even worse—derail momentum. There must be a parallel effort to focus on the people side of the change, divided into three broad phases of transformation.
1. Nurture a Changing Environment
Start with having a clear, compelling, and inspiring vision of the change, in which one can easily picture the future after the implemented change. The most senior leader of the change agenda must also articulate the sense of urgency for the change, which explains the “why now.” The leadership team managing the change should be able to articulate the why, what, and how of the change so that everyone can understand and equally communicate in the same manner.
When communicating for buy-in, know that some people are more logical and need data, and others are visual and need the illustrative type of communication. The leader must communicate in a manner that addresses the needs of both the left and right brain.
2. Engage Everyone
Leaders have to be transparent, authentic, and empathetic to garner trust and increase buy-in at all levels of the organization. They must model the changed behavior and remove the barriers that hinder change momentum. Celebrate the small wins or milestones in a timely fashion with everyone to demonstrate progress and acknowledge their accomplishments.
Individuals may fall into three categories: early adopters, late adopters, and resistors. Understanding the concerns of the resistors is essential and should be noted. However, to move your change agenda forward, the early adopters and late adopters are your change agents and will help bring the resistors along the change continuum.
3. Sustain the Momentum
Leaders cannot change focus when the finish line is near; they must continue to measure progress. Leaders must reward, recognize, and model the new behavior in a way that encourages the “new normal” for everyone. Essentially, there is no point of arrival; it is more of a point of next.
With the rapid technological change, it is easy to lose sight of the human impact. The intent for the change should focus on increased productivity and innovation, rather than expense reduction. For example, many of Amazon’s fulfillment warehouse have incorporated robotics to sort and move packages in their warehouses, which created new opportunities for a modern workforce to monitor the production process. Leaders are challenged to be open to technological change and plan for the “people side of change.”