Change is an inevitable part of life – and the workplace is no exception to this rule.
Whether you’re dealing with technological advances, facing geological challenges or considering something a bit closer to home, such as working arrangements and how to provide a more ethical and happier environment for your staff to work, there needs to be some form of strategy to adapt.
Navigate Change Effectively
The one question that most business leaders across the world ask themselves is ‘how do I deal and sustain amidst these invariable and undeniable changes?’
How to react to advancements and transformations in the world around us (sometimes without a shred of notice – COVID-19 in recent months being a pillar example of how businesses sometimes need to adapt in the blink of an eye) is something that many of us ponder on. You’ve got to get it right, at the end of the day.
Many employers feel that in order to equip themselves for such changes, they need to instate the brightest minds to the right positions at the right time. However, when you stop to consider what this means when things are constantly altering, it’s unlikely that having the most qualified people is going to be enough to help your business navigate the volatile waves of the business environment.
The reason for this is that, while skills are an important facet of the work we do, they run the risk of becoming obsolete over time depending on the nature of the changes we are faced with. You just need to look at the large number of jobs that are being taken over by technology, replacing people with robotic counterparts.
The only real way a business is going to sustain the uncertainties that the modern-day world has to throw at it is to ensure that it is agile – and the only way that will happen is if it has an agile workforce. You can’t simply rely on business leaders and management to exhibit agility. Your employees of all levels also need to be able to perform nimbly, too.
What is an Agile Workforce?
A good question… How can a business be agile without first understanding what it actually means to be agile?
Well, an agile workforce is made up of a team of people at all levels of the hierarchy who have multiple skill-sets and are willing to develop on them, show willingness to take on challenges and demonstrate an eagerness and capability to experiment and innovate.
In short, it means that you are never relying on just one person who knows how to work that machine, or on a specific department or manager responsible for business-critical processes – everyone on the team is able to pick up slack if someone is unavailable for whatever reason. It also means that by having a team of people who basically just want to do their best and help to make the company thrive, there’s no end to what you can achieve – even in the face of never-ending changes and sharp turns in the road.
How to Create an Agile Workforce?
Agility is a mindset. It is the ability to adapt to change or respond to an outer stimulus in a speedy, yet effective manner. It’s the strength, coordination and balance of all the inner elements to react efficiently to something which is new, external and unprecedented.
But the question is, how on earth do you help your employees to develop an agile mindset? Surely that’s something they need to figure out for themselves?
Typically, when a person of high expertise leaves the company, you notice a skill gap. It isn’t until they leave that you realise just how completely dependent on them you were, and their absence creates a frenzy within the business. Sure, you can find a replacement, but doing so will take a significant amount of time spent training the new person to bring things back to normal.
Avoiding this issue is simpler than you may think. Seek help from the most experienced people on your team and implement a training system so that they can pass their knowledge onto their colleagues.
If time allows you to do so, you can also arrange for a replacement to come on board a month or so before the employee is due to leave, giving them enough time to train up the new starter to a standard that will prevent any devastation to your business.
Have you ever felt nervous after delegating a task to someone else, wondering whether they will do the work correctly and if you’ll need to spend time checking over, or worse, doing it all again?
Things shouldn’t be that way, though, and they don’t have to. Empower people to take challenges. Make them believe that they can do it, and believe me when I tell you that they will do it.
It’s important for employees to be pushed a little way out of their comfort zones. Otherwise, there is no room for growth. You can cultivate the habit of not taking the easy route by:
- Delegating different tasks.
- Rotating roles.
- Giving staff the autonomy to perform a task on their own.
- Pushing them to behave like a team leader.
- Creating room for independent decision-making.
- Motivating them to experiment without the fear of failure.
Don’t Put all your Reliance on Technology
Processes and technology are a vital aspect of any company in the twenty-first century, but it’s important not to forget the human aspect of your business.
- Escalate conversations when required to encourage communication. That’s key!
- Ask your staff to work in teams. They will learn to respect and collaborate with each other.
- Ditch classroom learning. Rather, associating learning in day-to-day operations is.
- Help your staff to understand that not everyone can be an expert in everything. Even human the mind has certain limitations and you don’t have to an expert in any one thing. Being a ‘jack of all trades’, so to speak, helps to sustain a business amidst emergencies and unprecedented changes.
Given the world’s aptitude to change, it’s not only important to respond to change but also to drive it forward. You’ve heard the term ‘be the change you want to see in the world’, right? Well adapt that and apply it to your business.
You don’t have to conform or fit into what society think is acceptable anymore. There is so much room to defy the unexpected and modify the way that things work – so if you have big ideas for your market, create the opportunity to make it happen. If you have the ability to propel change, you will remain at the forefront of competition.
It’s no small feat. If only a handful of people are innovating and the rest are just following or coasting along, it’s not going to work; so, it has to be a company-wide scenario.
Here some ideas you might want to try:
- Schedule idea-sharing sessions.
- Discuss the alternative interests of your team members.
- Motivate your employees to work on ideas that are close to their hearts
- Offer personal support and help when required.
- Eliminate constraints that will prevent staff from being about to experiment and innovate when and where possible.
Establish a horizontal communication channel to increase collaboration and reduce delay across all projects you are working on.
Allow your team to work on their own and invite one of the members to become the team leader. Attach a timeline and tangible objectives with the project and ask them to perform – creating self-managing teams is a surefire way to drive collaboration within the team and enhance learning.