Today’s business landscape is characterised by the many technological and, specifically digital, advances taking place. Thanks to consumer demand for new, improved experiences, investment in modern technologies is no longer optional, and digital transformation now underpins the majority of business decisions today.
According to research, the worldwide spend on digital transformation will reach £1.6 trillion by 2022. And it’s no wonder; modern technologies are enabling businesses to recreate themselves and improve the way that they work, both internally and when it comes to interacting with their customers. Those willing and able to invest in digital also often benefit from higher levels of innovation, improved processes, and the identification of new revenue streams.
However, whilst the benefits are clear for those in the boardroom, employees throughout an organisation often feel left in the dark. In fact, rather than feeling excited about the potential benefits that digital transformation could bring to their every-day tasks, for many employees, the transition to modern ways of working can become an intimidating process.
Without the proper people management strategy in place, change – and the fear that it so often creates – can sink a company’s overall productivity. It can also lead to reduced morale, internal resistance, and even the potential loss of valuable staff members if not handled correctly.
We’re only human
Change in any aspect of our lives can be challenging. Unsurprisingly, shifts within the workplace are often challenging to manage. We’re naturally wired to resist change. So when employees struggle to come to terms with transitioning to new technologies, it’s not just them being difficult. It’s a neurological phenomenon, and there is science behind it. When processing change, an area of the brain – the prefrontal cortex – can reach a breaking point in some cases. This causes the fear that often drives resistance.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that employees don’t always feel the need to immediately jump on board and view new technologies and tools with enthusiasm. Any new process – particularly one which will affect their day-to-day working lives – can cause feelings of unease. So, whilst IT teams deploy shiny new tools, the real challenge in the digital transformation process is for HR departments. They are the people often tasked with supporting employees, helping them to overcome any reservations. They need to change perceptions and transform fear into opportunity.
As part of this process, it’s essential to recognise that individuals will respond to change in different ways. Therefore, businesses need to put unique systems in place for each employee. After all, employees have the power to make or break an organisation, so it’s worth investing in them as individuals and providing a personalised approach that takes into consideration their different traits.
Creating a tailored approach
By identifying different personalities and using that information to shape tailored approaches, organisations can encourage change to be welcomed, rather than resisted. This, in turn, will ensure that the transition process can progress as smoothly as possible.
According to a study, there are usually several personalities types in an office, including:
- The Skeptic: Often relying on outdated evidence, the skeptic is the kind of person who typically, and pessimistically, questions ‘why?’. This type of person is quick to shoot down new tools, ideas, or methods even before they are explored. To manage them, you should try to involve them from the very beginning. If they feel invested, they are more likely to keep their judgment to themselves and be more open about changes
- The Technophobe: Finding comfort and stability in the routine, the technophobe is likely to follow the same patterns over and over again. When new solutions replace that familiarity, technology becomes an enemy rather than a resource. You should ease them in by allowing them to keep their calendars and notepads initially. Time and patience are vital. They’ll eventually accept that the new tool will ease their workload
- The Know-it-all: The know-it-all’s mind is like a sponge. They can retain all kinds of information. But this often results in them displaying a lot of confidence, whilst lacking complete understanding. To manage them, you should educate them. Show them how their actions have consequences.
No one can predict tomorrow’s technology. We know for sure that it will continue to have a significant impact on how business is done. However, given that any new tool or system can cause feelings of insecurity for the people using them, employers need to put in place personalised systems, rather than imposing change.
Identifying each of the different personality types and applying specific management techniques will help smoothen any transition. Feeling involved and listened to also enables employees to develop a stronger tie to an organisation, encouraging loyalty and assisting businesses to retain talent. Change does not have to be negative – with the right support and guidance; it can be an exciting time for the company as a whole.
- Megan Barbier: Implementing new technologies – why a tailored approach is best - Wednesday, February 12, 2020