One of the most important challenges that executives face when rolling out digital transformation programmes is organisational resistance to change. From incumbent staff to risk-averse department heads, several cultural factors can hamper a digital initiative as people fear change and are inclined to hold onto what they know and are familiar with.
However, an organisation and its top executives can tackle such cultural barriers by designing a workforce transition plan as part of their digital transformation programme and clearly signposting the purpose and drivers of the changes being made and plans for implementation.
This plan should include communicating to employees the vision and strategy behind digital transformation initiatives, the associated objectives, and key timelines. Plans for implementation should also address skills gaps, offering upskilling and reskilling opportunities to existing employees, which help win their commitment and confidence, thus smoothening the transition for all. All too often businesses focus on hiring in new talent to address skills gaps, rather than investing in their own staff.
Organisations need to recognise too that, as it is the softer side of change and leadership that are the most important facets of digital transformation, and that as with all initiatives involving cultural change, business transformations of this magnitude are rarely accomplished overnight!
A largely distributed workforce is here to stay in 2021 and beyond. Employers are choosing different paths ranging from their digital maturity and perceptions of the importance of face-to-face interaction to team morale and performance. Nevertheless, many leading employers have stated their intention to adopt a hybrid work model with employees splitting their work between the office, home and potential additional remote locations or so-called third spaces.
This represents a happy medium for many employees and allows employers to reap the benefits of improved job satisfaction and employee commitment. Hybrid approaches offer employees greater work-life balance, lower office expenses for business leaders, and could help attract better talent and improve employee retention rates.
Setting clear policies and expectations is necessary to realise the full benefits of a hybrid workforce, as is effective workforce management. Creating guidelines that are based on a proper understanding of how employees work now, how they feel they work best, and how they would prefer to work in the future – is important in outlining specifics such as rotation schedules and working hours. Mechanisms, that monitor the engagement of employers operating remotely, is also important.
In today’s volatile and uncertain environments, agility is key. Organisations that are most likely to survive and thrive are those that are equipped to respond rapidly to change and where there is a culture of continuous learning. This demands business leaders who are not only capable of anticipating and sensing market trends, but who can create a climate where employees across the organisation are empowered to innovate and experiment with new ideas and create innovative solutions to customer’s demands.
Ad hoc and organic organisational structures such as “scrum teams” and “skunkworks” are some of the agile and responsive ways in which organisations can conceive and explore new ideas, which can then be developed and scaled up rapidly across the business.
A high-performing executive team – the CEO’s most crucial asset – is especially critical in the face of complex challenges. Top executives with a combination of soft skills such as grit, resilience, and adaptability are key to driving organisational change, and ultimately generating business results.
In today’s uncertain business environment, the ideal executive is self-disruptive, someone with the mindset and the ability to continuously challenge their own beliefs and assumptions. A self-disruptive executive can skillfully link resources with talent to build an innovative ecosystem. Such leaders can introduce robust ideas to market at speed and, most importantly, adapt quickly to change by disrupting themselves repeatedly.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, we also need leaders that are prepared to delegate and empower those around them in order to respond rapidly to changes and to lead their teams in an empathetic and authentic manner.
Executive burnout is a growing problem with negative effects that can trickle down through various levels of an entire organisation. While challenges and growth opportunities are important for one’s satisfaction at work, such demands for prolonged periods can result in burnout and other wellness issues.
Executives should take stock of their own workloads and avoid setting unrealistic expectations for themselves. Beating burnout not only requires prioritising and delegating more effectively, but also pursuing passions and personal interests outside of work, which ultimately help in renewing one’s enthusiasm and vigour at work.
For many executives, COVID-19 has resulted in longer working hours and a worsening work-life balance as the boundaries between home and office life have become increasingly blurred. Nevertheless, it is important for businesses to acknowledge this challenge and work collectively with their top teams on ways to improve wellness for all.
Senior executives have a role to play in leading by example and demonstrating the importance of the wellness agenda and championing such initiatives across their organisation.
To remain relevant and competitive, technology leaders such as CIOs must adopt two positions within their organisation: guardians of infrastructure and catalysts for business development and change.
High-performing CIOs should be allowed a voice in the boardroom so they can lead and participate in strategic dialogues about deriving the most value from technology-driven disruption, innovation and value creation.
And because any digital initiative requires stakeholder support for its eventual success, CIOs should learn and focus on creating solid, evidence-based business cases for the management buy-in needed for technology investments.
Technology alone cannot be allowed to dictate an organisation’s digital strategy, but rather treated as a key enabler and it is the role of the CIO to ensure that organisations derive the best value and strategic impact from these investments.
- Technology leaders such as CIOs must adopt two positions within organisations, guardians of infrastructure and catalysts for business development and change.
- High-performing CIOs should be allowed a voice in the boardroom so they can participate in strategic dialogues.
- CIOs should learn on creating evidence-based business cases for management buy-in.
- Hybrid offers employees work-life balance, lower office expenses, help attract better talent and improve employee retention rates.
- In today’s volatile and uncertain environments, agility is key.
- A largely distributed workforce is here to stay in 2021 and beyond.
- In today’s uncertain business environment, the ideal executive is self-disruptive.
With all initiatives involving change, organisations need to recognise, softer side and leadership are most important facets of digital transformation.