10 Change Leadership Challenges in the Digital Age

In the coming years, expect to face a growing number of change leadership challenges.

Many of these are age-old challenges that leaders have always faced. Others are new to the digital age.

Regardless, change leaders should pay attention to the impact of digital technology. It drives change, forces companies to adapt more quickly than ever, and puts pressure on change leaders to perform.

10 Change Leadership Challenges in the Digital Age

Below are 10 change leadership challenges you will certainly encounter in your change initiatives:

1. Buy-in from executives

Executive sponsorship has been named as the leading factor contributing to a program’s success or failure, according to several studies.

Prosci, among others, points out active and visible sponsorship tops the list of key success contributors.

Prosci’s research also pointed out that lack of sponsorship was also named one of the biggest obstacles to a program’s success.

2. Dealing with employee resistance

Employee resistance, another major obstacle to success, is nothing new.

The reasons for employee resistance vary, from fear of the unknown to fear of job loss.

Because each situation is different, each change program must be designed differently.

However, a few ways to reduce employee resistance include:

  • Highlighting benefits to employees in the change initiative
  • Communicating the vision in advance
  • Inviting feedback and participation

These just scratch the surface, but are a good start.

3. Staying agile

Agility is a must in today’s fast-paced digital workplace.

In fact, it has become so important that many change managers adopt agile change management practices.

They prioritize adaptability and responsiveness over long-term plans. This gives them the ability to change quickly, even mid-project.

Though such an approach is new, it can offer competitive advantages to those that adopt it.

4. Speed

Change programs can’t go on forever.

If a program takes few years – or even a year – to complete, then it may be too long.

In a world where new technologies crop up overnight, businesses need to be able to grasp, use, and exploit those innovations in a heartbeat.

Change leaders should operate quickly, leanly, and with a focus on results, rather than long-term schedules.

5. Integrating “old school” with “new school” workers

Today’s workplaces are beginning to integrate digital natives … those who grew up online.

The younger generations are born digital, they think differently, and they communicate differently.

The result: workplace cultures that represent vastly different ways of thinking.

Yes, it’s true that every generation is different.

But today’s generation gaps are accentuated by the rise of the internet and mobile, which occurred in the span of two decades.

Change leaders need to consider how they can adapt their culture to accommodate both ends of the spectrum.

6. Measuring ROI of soft skills development

Soft skills – people skills, problem-solving skills, creativity, and communication – are in demand.

They help businesses run smoothly, they help individuals succeed, and they make workplaces more pleasant.

For these and other reasons, soft skills training should be included with organizational development and change programs.

However, measuring these skills’ ROI can be a challenge.

And, in some cases, impossible.

Where possible, change leaders and managers should attempt to measure those skills.

And, where it’s not possible, make a case for those skills based on industry research.

7. Keeping staff relevant

Digital transformation, innovation, and change are double-edged swords.

On the one hand, change helps businesses grow and compete.

On the other, automation can drive employees out of work.

This unfortunate reality can negatively impact morale, employee support, and workplace culture.

Rather than automating employees out of a job, double down on training and re-skilling.

Through inclusive digital transformation, you’ll get more support and better results.

8. Motivating employees

As we saw above, training employees is one of the best ways to improve motivation.

Because, even if staff don’t resist a change, their motivation is required to drive it forward.

On top of training, explore ways your program will benefit every individual employee, as well as the workplace.

This will help you create a vision that employees can stand behind.

After all, if your vision support’s a person’s self-interest, then they are more likely to support your vision.

9. Thinking outside the box

Creativity is a must in today’s innovative era … it’s not an option.

Whether you view technology as a threat or an opportunity, it’s here to stay.

And the fact is, technology offers opportunities left and right, but only if you exploit it.

Thinking outside the box is so important that some companies, like Google, make it mandatory.

Google, for instance, gives employees an entire weekday to work on whatever they wish. And the results speak for themselves.

10. Maintaining your digital edge

Everywhere you look you can see the effects of digital technology.

However, despite the significant impact of technology, some companies continue to lag.

Maintaining your digital edge can mean attending workshops, training, or regular reading of chosen blogs.

In 2019 organizational change will continue to grow, making tech-savvy one of the most important skills in your toolbox.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.