Before an organization undertakes any transformation, restructuring, or automation initiative, it needs to ask: What do our employees need to become so that they can thrive in an environment with more chaos and uncertainty? That’s because any change initiative creates fear, uncertainty, and doubt amidst your employees. Will I lose my job? Will I still be valued after we go through this transformation?
Absent any reassurances or resources to help employees make changes or take on new roles and responsibilities, they are right to worry. But organizations should worry, too: Employee fear of change makes transformation success all but impossible.
In my new report, we tackle this challenge head on: How should companies handle employee experience during periods of organizational change and uncertainty? The reality is that change and uncertainty will be the new normal in the future, as companies move faster in response to competitors and market disruptors. To meet that challenge, employees need to become:
- Poised — secure and safe to bring their full selves to work. Psychological safety — employees’ belief that they are welcome to voice their ideas and concerns or admit their mistakes at work — is critical for peak performance. And employees who feel confident also feel empowered to change, adapt, grow on their own, and take part in organizationwide transformations.
- Enlightened — aware of their own talents. Employee, know thyself. Employees who are aware of their own strengths, capabilities, and aspirations are better able to imagine multiple future career paths for themselves. This helps them be open to new possibilities when their job description changes as a result of a transformation.
- Adaptable — resilient and flexible. We want employees singing — without irony — the lyrics to “Tubthumping”: “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You are never gonna keep me down.” Their ability to bounce back from failures and setbacks is a critical success factor in any change initiative.
- Knowledge-seeking — committed to continuous learning. Employees who are optimistic and enthusiastic about the process of acquiring new skills and abilities will be well positioned for a future where adaptability is a requirement for success.
Organizations must honestly assess whether they have the resources in place to help employees ascend to their PEAK. Those resources include:
- Traits. Tools like CliftonStrengths (commonly known as StrengthsFinder) and Forrester Future Fit help employees better understand their strengths and their appetite for adopting future technologies.
- Techniques. Organizations can enhance their employees’ inherent traits with methodologies that foster faster learning and growth. Concepts like deliberate practice, the beginner’s mindset, and thinking in bets should be universal training modules in future employee experiences.
- Trials. There is no substitute for experience, but when you lack time, trials must be made. Employees need opportunities to face new challenges, experience failure, and recover from setbacks. This means providing exposure to different roles, disciplines, and ways of thinking.
- Teaching. Leaders must support employees with access to resources that develop a continuous cycle of improvement and lifelong learning, such as on-the-job mentorship, coaching and candid feedback from peers and managers, and continuing education resources through partnerships with local universities and online courses.
The reality is that if you don’t provide these resources to help employees stay above the rising water line of automation and navigate the chaos caused by a transformation, then it’s not possible for you to successfully execute a transformation. Employees will resist it or be unable to make the necessary changes.
Creating a PEAK human organization is imperative for any company that wants to successfully complete a corporate transformation. Start helping your employees ascend to PEAK today.
Samuel Stern, principal analyst at Forrester authored this article, which can also be found here.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends.