In 2021, the field of change management will continue to evolve rapidly, so it is important to keep up with the latest change management trends.
For those who want to stay ahead of the curve, here’s an overview of some of the most important trends that will influence the field of change management.
7 Change Management Trends That Will Rule 2021
Here are a few trends to pay attention to in the coming months and years:
1. Increased change management maturity across industries
According to Prosci, for several years, many organizations have been placing increased importance on change management maturity.
Change management maturity refers to the level of sophistication of your change management program.
Prosci’s model, for instance, has five stages. At the lowest stage, there is little to no change management, while at the highest level, change management has become standardized across the business.
In order to upgrade their change management maturity, it is important to invest in a sophisticated, structured approach that is grounded in the most well-known and important theories of change management.
2. Remote change management
Change management is hard enough when everyone is in the same room.
When you’re trying to manage a team that’s spread all over the world, it becomes even more difficult.
During 2020, when telecommuting spread across the world, remote team management took the spotlight.
Managers realiezed that remote workers need to be managed differently.
At the same time, change leaders realized that the ability to manage remote teams can mean the difference between a successful organizational change and a failed one.
3. Digital-first workplaces
Digital workplaces are the new normal.
A digital-first workplace embeds the latest technology into the work environment. Digital workplace designs also connect the workplace itself to the organization’s products and services – after all, the two are interdependent.
Among other things, the transition to the digital workplace means:
- Investing in digital adoption platforms (DAPs) and structured digital adoption strategies
- Leading digital transformation initiatives that leverage technology-driven innovation
- Creating a culture that is digital-first
Companies that are slow to adapt to changes in technology and culture will be excluded from the digital economy. Therefore, change leaders, IT leaders, and business leaders need to invest heavily in these tools.
4. Modernized organizational cultures
The precise definition will vary from source to source, but one useful definition to go by is that espoused by Edgar Schein, an expert in organizational leadership and culture.
According to his definition, organizational culture has three levels:
- The artifacts and behaviors, which include visible signals such as dress code and social conduct
- The values, or the culture’s espoused principles and philosophies
- The shared assumptions, which are deeply embedded beliefs, often taken for granted
While there is no such thing as a perfect organizational culture, many change leaders and business leaders recognize that organizational culture can play a pivotal role in organizational change efforts.
In order to drive change effectively – and to stay competitive – change leaders should consider inculcating cultural traits such as openness to change, a pro-learning mindset, and digitally-friendly attitudes.
5. Agility and continuous improvement
The modern business world is constantly changing, so organizations must be flexible and adaptable to keep up with changing circumstances.
For this reason, many organizations are adopting agile, lean business models.
These approaches emphasize areas such as:
- Reducing wasteful business processes
- Implementing user-centered design principles
- Constant iteration and improvement
- Responsiveness over static processes
In short, these strategies focus on being responding to external circumstances and adjusting accordingly.
Though our natural impulse is to stay still and stay safe, that’s actually a dangerous approach when the economic environment is continually changing.
Instead, business leaders and the workforce as a whole must be willing to change in order to succeed.
6. Data-driven change management
Data is changing the way we approach change management.
Previously, change management was “people-focused,” meaning that managers would focus on the attitudes, behaviors, and skills of employees. And while areas such as employee training and communication are still crucial parts of change management, change managers are increasingly turning their focus towards data and technology.
With data, change managers can:
- Gain insight into employees’ mindsets and behaviors
- Predict the trajectory and profitability of certain projects
- Better measure the outcomes and performance of change projects
Data is quickly becoming a vital part of modern business operations, change management included. In the coming years, we’ll see more change managers using data to predict company performance, invest in projects, and make decisions based on the data they collect.
7. The desire to manage employee attitudes
During 2020, the rapid transition to remote working shook the enterprise work world.
While many employees responded favorably, others suffered from feelings of isolation and disconnect.
In the years ahead, change will continue to affect the workplace, which will, in turn, continue to affect employees.
Managers and change managers will therefore invest in more techniques to manage employee attitudes – not doing so, after all, can lead to a decline in company culture and overall performance.
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