To allay fears around change, make people aware that there is another side to this mountain and help them move toward it and around it. Remember that many innovations brought into the workplace throughout the twentieth century—the telephone, the computer, the internet—were greeted with resistance until they, too, became the new normal.
Technological innovation has an annoying habit of moving faster than most people can handle. It compels organisations to add more technologies into the work cycle—technologies that are more intelligent and more connected than ever before.
Organisations undertaking digital transformations tend to focus exclusively on the newer, greener pasture that lies ahead. But with any new change, people will experience it through the filter of “What do I stand to lose?” as opposed to “What do I stand to gain?” No matter how great and innovative a transformation appears, it has monumental obstacles to overcome within the minds, hearts, and instincts of the people for whom it’s designed.
We humans are motivated primarily by fear. Our brains are prone to following primitive superstitions and denial as ways to counter the fears that drive them. Facing a digital transformation conjures up a host of deep-seated fears—of change, of the unknown, of losing control, or even of losing our job. And, when we fear something, we seek to avoid it, which leads to procrastination, push back, or even sabotage. Therefore, those in charge of leading others through a digital transformation must be careful to establish a process of comfort using awareness, exposure, and reinforcement that addresses people’s doubts and fears.
For example, learning the skills required to use new technologies takes effort, and we naturally will do things incorrectly as we learn. This dredges up still another fear—our fear of looking foolish. Learning means we are required to craft a new sequence of procedures and carve them into mental and physical memory. But if people remain afraid of looking stupid as they learn, many will simply withdraw.
When leading such initiatives, it is vital to follow a careful plan that allows habits to transform in league with gradual emotional acceptance. This means establishing a drip feed of reinforcement, delivering vision and facts in advance, focusing on small wins, and supplying appropriate amounts of emotional and practical support.
What can you do as an employee or an employer to help offset the many fears that will stand in the way of your company’s digital transformation efforts? Consider these strategies:
Leaders need to be supportive of this and show it in their behaviours. One simple act of listening kindly will go a long way to enhance your reputation and how others perceive you. And it improves everyone’s health and well-being too.
In every organisational relationship, there is an accountability equation at play. Accountability matters because it functions as the invisible thread that enables effective interactions with others.
The impact of technology is almost always overestimated in the short-term and under-estimated in the long-term. Talent expects leaders to have the right mindset: one that is open, focused on people, and constantly embraces the advantages of technology.
Executives have an enormous opportunity to use technology to help them scale solutions, offer customer-centric products and services, and pioneer new, immersive forms of engagement in today’s business landscape that’s dominated by technology.
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