The Future of Work and the Role of Change Management
I recently listened to a podcast with Professor Lynda Gratton at London Business School where she discusses maximizing core productivity being a priority for every company. She points out that while flexible work may seem like the new norm, it is not a blanket change applicable to all sectors; every company’s needs are different. As the Practice Director for Change Management at Apps Associates, it got me to thinking; achieving successful outcomes with hybrid work requires the deliberate management of change. How do we do that? Well, having been navigating this ambiguous ecosystem of our ever-evolving landscape; here are some areas of focus where I have seen success with our internal initiatives and with our clients.
1) Leadership and Executives will need to acknowledge that implementing successful hybrid work strategies is critically dependent on human factors.
Companies need to start with their organization’s vision and strategic objectives and align with their employees to manage this change successfully. Building awareness is imperative to success for a hybrid landscape.
Employees must understand the value and benefits of the hybrid work as it relates to them personally, and for the greater good of the organization. Leaders who ensure that their hybrid work strategy serves their employees will also serve their organization well. By providing flexibility and choice to an employee’s work environment, employees are given the opportunity to bring the best version of themselves to what they create and contribute to their workplace. When leaders and organizations manage change properly, it often creates a level of trust where the overall employee experience is elevated along with the company’s performance.
2) There is no such thing as too much communication.
Organizations must ensure that their company culture shines through regardless of where and how their employees work. Employees like to feel prepared, equipped, supported, and included. Consistent and targeted communication with a plan in place is a critical ingredient to enabling a collaborative and cohesive culture. Communication can look different in a hybrid work environment, yet it is still an influential instrument in keeping employees informed, engaged and excited about their work. Managers and their employees should be prepared to deliver and improve communication as the customary work environment becomes more adaptable. Clear communication creates buy in and accountability, helps to set expectations, and ensures that everyone is on the same page and driving towards the overall vision of the organization.
Do not limit the power of communication to one style – mixed modalities are key! Hybrid work environments require hybrid communication vehicles. Utilize online meeting platforms, town halls, email, intranet, phone calls, lunch and learns and face to face gatherings to create a culture that is inclusive, dynamic and engaging.
3) Get people involved in creating community around the change.
In navigating through the best practices of a hybrid workforce or the preverbal “fog of change”, we must identify those key individuals that are going to shape the rate of change, engagement and the shift within the overall organizational culture. These individuals are the true cheerleaders, ambassadors for crusading and helping to drive the overall momentum or organizational shifts. We are talking about creating community around the change and helping to create a cross-functional ecosystem; change within change and at times, a big mindset or culture shift for most. This leads me to my next point. We cannot change in silos and we cannot do it all by ourselves.
4) Eat the Frog First.
Are you familiar with the phrase – Eat the Frog First? It has many variations but for my purposes, I am saying that you should focus on less even when you know you can do more. Prioritize the hard tasks and experiment with what works well. The future of how we work is evolving and organizations will need to change with it. Like any initiative involving change, establish a tool to collect feedback, get employees involved, their voices heard, create value, and play back what you hear to facilitate improvement. This is an ongoing process, not a closed-loop approach.
In a Nutshell
Let me outline this in a step process to give a little clarity within the complexity and outline the current tactile approach I am currently using with customers and here at Apps Associates:
- Identify a sponsor – that influential individual that is going to drive the bus
- Talk to the people – barriers, feedback, and create connection around the change (buy-in and awareness is huge here!)
- Identify the passionate change-makers or crusaders that are going to be on board with change
- Identify key areas of change or focus; remember, eat the frog first!
- Create a task force around the future of work to build and continue driving that momentum
- Lastly, create a communication engagement and change the roadmap for deployment. Keep yourself accountable, organized, and focused on change.
Work as we know will continue to evolve and transform. The one thing that we can be sure of is that change will be constant. Change does not need to be a detractor. Change can be used to fuel your organization, empower your employees and bring people together throughout the process. Creating a framework to address and manage that change will be a crucial factor in the success of your organization. Do not be afraid to pivot. I recently learned the term “Progressive Elaboration.” If something is not working, do not be afraid to change with purpose!
Learn more about how Apps Associates can help you manage all stages of organizational change at www.appsassociates.com/expertise/change-management-and-training/.