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Helping Employees Embrace Change in the Workplace

The workplace has changed beyond recognition over the last three decades. Processes and procedures have become more streamlined, and automation has delivered incredible cost savings and advances in production capacity. But it is the mostly invisible changes that are creating the biggest opportunities – and simultaneously the most exacting management challenges – in the modern business environment. Helping employees embrace change in the workplace is perhaps the most defining of these challenges.

The workplace changes the eye cannot see

Organizational structures have flattened as the demand for more agile and proactive decision making has increased. This flattening has blurred the boundaries of management and job categories, with a collaborative approach paying dividends. Teams and individuals cross previous functional boundaries work together to create solutions and iterate innovations at breakneck pace.

In the workplace and outside, employees have benefitted from a breakthrough in communication technologies that have made their lives both easier and more difficult. People have greater access to information than ever before, but the increased social connectivity has blurred lines between work and recreation time.

By helping employees embrace change that has altered the way we all work, your organization will receive maximum benefit from the connected knowledge economy. At Forward Focus we partner with organizations to help them realize how these unseen changes affect employees in three distinct areas. In this article we deal with the first of these:

Cognitive competence

Employees increasingly cross over tasks and responsibilities, with knowledge-based working replacing task-based. Coaching employees in cognitive skills is now a core leadership function, aiding employees to take greater responsibility as they are expected to make more independent decisions.

In the environment of continuous change, leaders who help employees embrace change will seek to encourage their people to continuously learn and improve their workplace competencies. Moreover, employees need to feel engaged in the business. Sharing business strategy and encouraging more lateral thinking is as imperative today as allowing employees the time to challenge themselves and providing the training and coaching to enable personal growth.

The cost of cognitive overload

With information so freely available, it is easier now for employees to independently find the information needed to discover, create, and innovate solutions. However, the amount of information available makes it more difficult to consume and sort. Time pressure, greater complexity at work, and information overload combine to create cognitive overload syndrome (COS). Employees who suffer from this display symptoms such as:

  • Stress
  • Difficulty in maintaining concentration
  • Focusing on what is easy to do rather than what is necessary to do

Preparing to benefit from workplace change

Today’s organization is changed in its structure, processes, social and communication capabilities. In the connected knowledge economy, work is more complex with results more dependent on social skills and technological competence. It is the responsibility of an organization’s leaders to ensure that they're helping employees embrace change in the new work world.

I our next article in this series, we’ll look at how a collaboration skills checklist will help your organization to face the challenge of the collaborative environment.

Meanwhile, feel free to contact Forward Focus and find out how a Change Agent Bootcamp, or coaching in Consulting and Facilitating will help your organization reap the benefits of 21st century change.

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