Change management is not a task to tick off, it is part of corporate culture – this is how to get there.
Digital corporate culture leads to higher profits and happier employees - this is the main finding of a German study “Culture first! Learning from the pioneers in digital transformation” by Capgemini Consulting.
You could therefore draw the conclusion that institutional entrenchment of digital corporate culture is directly related to the success of a company. However, in order to achieve a digital corporate culture, change is necessary. But this is often where many senior managers encounter issues.
The need for change
Whether big or small - we face changes everywhere. Change is the basis for achieving strategic realignment, increasing customer satisfaction, saving costs, or to alleviate an existing or avoid an impending crisis. But that is not enough. Especially in the context of digital transformation, the introduction of new processes, new software, or new technology is inevitable in order to keep a corporate finger on the pulse.
The event industry is affected by digital transformation as much as any other industry. Whether event planners, exhibitors or visitors – the appetite for digital solutions and modern technology is increasing. Virtual Tickets, smart badges, check-in via RFID or Venue site inspections conducted via virtual or augmented reality are just some of the digital platforms being widely used across the industry. Whether the expectations of younger generations (Generation Y, Generation Z) or simply technological evolution is responsible - the need to adapt is undeniable.
Why are changes not an easy task?
Every change within a company affects most, if not all, employees. When describing the way people respond to change, you can classify employees into three distinct groups: adopters/supporters: 20%, hesitant/cautious: 60% and rejecters/deniers: 20%. Different personalities deal with change differently and there is a diverse range of reactions to modifications or developments. For some employees, change is exciting and motivating, for others it’s unsettling and leads to uncertainty. Generational differences can also be observed, which need to be given special consideration in the context of change management. In principle, change is perceived as particularly stressful by employees if:
- They have the impression that the changes are being imposed on them by external forces as they feel that they have no choice and are the victims of circumstance
- They feel at a disadvantage because of the change or that it may have negative consequences
- They believe they cannot bear the change or feel overwhelmed
- Too many changes are executed at the same time
- They are not in the best physical condition
- They tend to suffer from higher levels of anxiety
Change management: how changes are implemented successfully
To successfully implement change across an organization, it is important to understand that change can only succeed if all employees participate and support the ongoing developments or modifications.
Understanding the process of change as a part of the corporate strategy is even more important the bigger the change is. Change processes should be planned with the same meticulous focus as entering a new market. Clear structures, rules and defined stages should be provided by management to help carry out the change, step by step.
Best results are achieved by applying a top-down approach to give the employees a voice, says Claudia Crummenerl of Capgemini Deutschland GmbH: "Still many companies pay too little attention to the human factor.” According to her, companies that view this aspect as important as the new technology itself are particularly successful on their journey towards digital transformation. The management style within successful organizations is adapted to this new perception of resources. Furthermore a culture of trust is promoted, that allows people to make mistakes and learn from them, and introduces employees to change management processes at an early stage.
Managers in charge of projects involving significant change should pay particular attention to the informal organizational structure and hierarchy. This relates to informal groups and social networks that usually exist within organizations, where opinion leaders tend to have greater impact on the attitudes and behavior of other team members. These social structures are too often disregarded within the process of implementing organizational change. As a result, teams agree to changes or new processes on a superficial basis, while secretly following the opinion leader and supporting their attitude. If these informal leaders demonstrate that they do not agree with either the change itself or the way it is being implemented, their reluctance should be critically evaluated. At the very least, it’s an obvious protest and you can address the concerns directly. In the worst case scenario, you risk employee engagement or adoption of the proposed changes and you could even face acts of sabotage.
"Standstill is a backwards step - change is positive and ensures innovation, progress and survival"
Therefore, to successfully implement change it is vital to:
- Involve all stakeholders at an early stage
- Clearly explain the background, purpose and requirement for change
- Inform employees in a timely manner about the steps required and provide regular updates on the progress
- Respond to opposition, criticism and insecurity, paying particular attention to "covert" resistance
- Help employees to obtain the appropriate qualifications and prepare them for the changes
- Set an example and embrace the changes yourself
- Give employees time to get onboard, be patient, allow mistakes and celebrate success
How does your company deal with change? What positive or negative experiences did you have and what did you learn from them?