Written by Joanne Sacco

Is the Ability to Manage Change the Most Valuable IT Skill?

Business are readily embracing digital transformation and its many technological advantages. But it’s important to keep in mind that change can be challenging for businesses and their employees.
Industrial robots are taking over jobs, apps are the future of the service industry, chatbots are the driving force of business communication, and AI is dramatically shortening the amount of work needed to complete routine tasks.
The combination of these disruptive technologies and digital trends is a clear risk to the nature of employment. Many tasks and jobs may soon be completely automated and your favourite work colleague you have your morning coffee with might soon be replaced by a chatbot (that never needs to take a break).

Understanding change

The future of work is changing rapidly and in 2020, business leaders need to understand the importance of developing what might be the most valuable skill in IT right now – the ability to manage change.
And managing change can be challenging.
We are used to acting and thinking within a known set of rules and naturally become familiar with certain patterns of thoughts and behaviours. To properly manage change you need to really understand the impacts that change can have. This means broadening your thinking and brainstorming about the range of possibilities that could occur as a result.
The ability to take a proactive approach to change is what essentially allows for greater success when inevitable challenges occur.

Leading change management

To be a great change manager it’s important to have a wide skill set that allows you to be adaptable when changes occur. This includes having the vision to allow for proper strategic and near future planning. It’s also important to be creative, proactive, and persistent. It additionally doesn’t hurt to be somewhat daring and willing to take risks in order to put in place new ideas that may not always be well received at first.
There are a series of steps that can be taken to lead a positive change process:

  1. Define the change – it isn’t possible to plan for change without clearly identifying the need for change and the specific goals of the change program. These goals should be clearly aligned to the business’ goals.
  2. Define the impacts – there’s no use thinking there won’t be both positive and negative impacts associated with change. These should be identified as much as possible ahead of time, including who will be most affected.
  3. Develop a communication strategy – employees need open communications about the change program itself, the goals associated with the change, and the expected impacts. This is especially the case for employees identified as likely being most affected by the changes.
  4. Provide effective training – as roles are removed, new roles emerge, and responsibilities shift, people need the training that allows them to be effective after these transitions. People need to develop new skills to utilise new technologies and work side by side with digital automation apps, devices, and machines.
  5. Implement a support structure – structures need to be put in place to support people whose roles have shifted dramatically, or been removed entirely.
  6. Measure the process / results – nothing significant can be achieved if its progress can’t be measured. How do you know how far down the digital transformation pathway you are? How successful has it been? Have the benefits outweighed the costs? These questions can only be answered through the application of carefully selected metrics that can properly measure the results and progress towards the originally stated goals.

Be the change

Being a change management leader means guiding your organisation’s staff through difficult waters and instilling in them the tools needed to make the necessary adjustments.
Employees need to understand that in the future, their greatest tools and assets will be skills such as critical and strategic thinking and developing and executing action plans. Simple or repetitive tasks will be left to the bots.
As more and more digital workers and robots are integrated into the workforce, humans must grasp how they can use technology to their advantage. People need to equip themselves with the skills and mindset to work collaboratively with these new technologies, be willing to embrace sometimes drastic changes, and modify the way they work so they can remain in demand and sought after in the most important roles.
If you’re interested in learning more about the near future of the tech landscape and how you can best prepare to manage the changes that will take us there, talk to Finite.

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