Digital disruption is transforming entire industries. Companies navigating this change are investing in technologies to accelerate their business process, streamline supply chains, and continuously innovate to deliver the best value to their customers. In this changing context, they also have to navigate talent-related challenges, including changing skills, finding the right talent, and engaging them at the workplace.
According to research by Mercer, only 52 percent of organizations worldwide have committed to help employees thrive at work. To navigate digital disruption successfully, multiple stakeholders need to come together – right from senior leadership to workers on the ground. A strong vision needs to percolate throughout the organization. Here is the role that managers need to play in navigating disruption.
Change management: As change champions, managers play a critical role in articulating the change in the organization. As the middle management layer between top leadership and employees, they need to be able to drive the energy required to navigate change. Identifying, supporting, and rewarding employees enabling the shift away from legacy ways of working, will be instrumental.
Rethink careers: Business managers are also at the stage in their careers where they can map the shifts in work and skills. Whether it’s identifying new skills needed from the market, or up-skilling their teams, there is a need to reflect on the changing roadmap to jobs and careers.
Focus on experience: Even as the business world adjusts to continuous shifts in the marketplace, workplace experience will play a defining role in talent attraction and retention. As companies continue to explore multiple technology solutions to boost employee experience, managers need to think about the human aspects of delivering a personalized employee experience.
Enable learning: Continuous learning is going to be a critical business differentiator. Enabling multiple learning avenues for employees will be necessary as they face an uncertain and quickly changing job scenario. Managers need to identify the learning needs of their team members and must actively work towards personalizing learning.
In addition to process changes at work, business managers also need to work with the leadership on the strategy that will ensure the company can navigate multiple waves of disruption. Here are a few strategic shifts they need to work towards:
- Understand sources of disruption:
Understanding patterns and areas of disruption is a crucial starting point in reshaping strategy and outcomes. And business managers must play an active role in understanding the sources of disruption – right from automated technology to the changing regulatory framework in response to disruption; there are multiple sources of disruption that is changing business models, the world of work and workforce.
- Navigating ambiguities and adaptive strategies:
Although data-based decision making is becoming the norm, there is more considerable ambiguity over the future as unforeseen situations, and technology-based disruptions transform companies. In this scenario, managers will need to be able to navigate ambiguity as well as devise adaptive strategies. Awareness and knowledge can only come through regular training and coaching.
- An agile organizational architecture:
In the era of continuous disruption, organizations face an increasingly fluid market, talent, and business model. To stay on top of the shifts, companies need to devise an organizational architecture that is less hierarchical. Teams will need to be empowered to make decisions, and iterate their strategies based on the inflow of information and real-time data – without having to rely excessively on the chain of command and control.
- Orchestrating change to suit new realities:
Managers also need to be the drivers of change, they need to understand new realities and ensure their team members are aligned with the needs of the business. Leading the change from the front requires commitment, perseverance, and the ability to reboot as and when needed.
The importance of learning and development
Amid the many shifts that are transforming the workforce, companies need to invest in the talent. This means investing in skilling managers to become leaders. Growth is critical to employees. According to research, employees value opportunities to ‘learn and grow,’ closely followed by ‘fair access to opportunities’ and ‘equity in pay.’ 79% of employee confidence in the company is dependent on creating a trusting work environment, a feeling of personal accomplishment, faith in senior leadership, and clarity around career paths.
There are two parts to driving this change; one is awareness, and the second is to equip them with the skills needed to drive the business mandate. Among the many avenues of learning that are now available, building strategic readiness requires concerted effort, which digital learning tools alone will not suffice. Managers need to be able to practice skill development in a peer to peer environment; they need classroom training, expert coaching, and mentorship along with regular assessments and workshops.