Change Management Christopher SmithNovember 24, 2020

10 Tips for Guiding an Organizational Shift in 2021

10 Tips for Guiding an Organizational Shift in 2021

During 2020, companies around the world were compelled to undergo an organizational shift in order to stay profitable. In 2021, many will continue to implement major strategic and structural changes.

The current economy, after all, is in a state of flux and rapid change. Keeping up with the dynamic business landscape mandates organizational shifts and strategic changes.

Below, we’ll look at ten ways companies can adjust their plans and stay successful in 2021 and beyond.

10 Tips for Implementing an Organizational Shift in 2020 and 2021

Here are a few shifts that organizations must make in order to adjust to the post-COVID paradigm or, as some call it, the next normal.

1. Become a digital-first organization

Digital technology is the machinery that runs modern organizations and even the whole economy.

Just having modern software, however, is not enough. To stay competitive and innovative, companies must put digital at the heart of their business models.

This means:

  • Using technology to create new, innovative forms of value
  • Leveraging technology to optimize business processes and workflows
  • Integrating digital-first mindsets into the company culture
  • Adopting emerging technology to keep up with the curve

During 2020, digital-first companies proved to be the most resilient and the most successful.

In 2021 and beyond, the same will hold true – companies that can use technology to its fullest extent will become digital leaders.

2. Prioritize employee learning

Employee skills directly influence employee engagement, employee productivity, and, ultimately, organizational performance.

In the digital workplace, having the right skills is more important than ever. Yet acquiring and retaining skilled employees can also be a challenge.

Every year, after all, new digital tools are released, old workflows are updated, job roles are adjusted, and new skills must be learned.

This has resulted in a skills gap that, according to a survey by PwC, often hinders innovation and growth.

A renewed focus on employee learning, therefore, should become a top priority for any company that wants to maintain a talented, productive workforce.

3. Develop a strategic digital adoption process

Digital adoption means attaining a state where employees can use digital tools to their fullest extent and for their intended purpose.

Many businesses tend to focus only on one portion of the adoption process, however. As a result, they only realize some of the potential value of their software investments.

Strategic digital adoption programs aim to maximize software ROI and product value by taking a sophisticated, structured approach to software adoption, implementation, and training.

Adoption programs, for instance, will focus on areas such as:

  • Streamlining software onboarding through product tours and software walkthroughs
  • Minimizing software frustration through improved software training
  • Maximizing employee productivity with self-service tools such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs)

The more that organizations shift towards today’s digital-first paradigm, the more essential it is to maintain employee skills through adoption programs such as these.

4. Align the organization’s culture with its updated mission

Organizational culture change has become a popular topic in recent years.

Today’s workplaces, after all, are changing along with the changing economy, technological advances, increasingly diversified workforces, and more.

Cultural change is not always necessary, nor is it always desirable.

However, if organizational shifts require major changes to the company’s mission, operations, or other core elements of the business model, cultural change may be desirable.

There is no such thing as a “perfect” organizational culture, it should be noted. However, some traits are considered desirable, and even profitable, especially in today’s digital economy.

A few traits to consider cultivating include:

  • A pro-learning attitude
  • Openness to change and new ideas
  • Data-centrism
  • User-centrism
  • A digital-first mindset

Traits such as these can help companies become more agile, flexible, and adaptable in today’s digitally-powered economy. They can also reduce resistance to change and other obstacles that can stand in the way of organizational shifts.

5. Take a structured approach to change management

Organizational change is not easy and many organizational transformation plans fail.

There are numerous reasons why organizational shifts fail, from employee resistance to a lack of executive sponsorship to ineffective communication.

Naturally, there is no single solution to tackling all of these problems.

Instead, it is best to take a structured approach to managing change projects.

Organizational change management is the discipline dedicated to executing and optimizing change projects.

Change managers, among other things, make it their goal to:

  • Mitigate risks and overcome obstacles to change
  • Minimize friction and resistance from employees
  • Optimize change programs and maximize ROI

The more frequently an organization shifts and changes, the more important it is to build a change management capability in the company.

This endeavor, of course, will take time and effort. It may require hiring experienced change managers, certifying employees, and more.

However, building this capacity for enterprise change management will ultimately pay for itself many times over.

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