In a world where disruption in the workplace is rapidly becoming the new norm, prioritising the management of people is now more critical than ever.

Let’s take the big retailers as an example. Around the world, retail giants are facing huge amounts of disruption by new and more innovative online retailers. With their substantial investments in real estate and stock, they simply can’t compete with eCommerce businesses whose biggest expense comes from their IT and people. Hence, the big retailers are being rapidly left behind by their competitors, and are having to make some difficult decisions regarding the future of their business operations.

This type of disruption which leverages innovative competition and advanced technologies is being mirrored across industries everywhere. And it’s causing many business leaders to ask themselves: how can I mitigate the impact of disruption, whilst successfully managing the combined technical, process and people issues?

Why do disruption initiatives fail?  

In every organisation there will be changes that occur, and the effects of this can be significantly amplified by disruption. But the fundamentals of how change and disrupted change need to be handled remain the same.

McKinsey has written a classic article on making operational improvements stick, which outlines the importance of integrating each of the following three functions in order to create successful change initiatives:

  1. Technical system (operating system): the way corporate resources are deployed to meet customer needs at the lowest cost.
  2. Management infrastructure: the way formal structures and processes are used to manage technical systems and achieve business objectives.
  3. Mind-sets, capabilities: the way people think and feel about their work and conduct themselves in the workplace.

The article also highlights why so many of these initiatives fail: because they don’t address the mind-set and capabilities of their leaders and people.

When an organisation is dealing with disruption, everyone becomes affected – from top management all the way down to the troops on the ground. I like to summarise the moving parts like this:

  • Top management: Their job is to filter orders down to middle management, and make sure they know what the plan of action is.
  • Middle management: Their job is to understand how they can execute the plan, and instruct their staff accordingly.
  • Staff: Their job is to carry out the orders directed to them by middle management, and execute the plan.

If you’re in the management team, you’re usually part of the planning and understand how your organisation is going to tackle the disruption. But problems arise when top management doesn’t address the organisation’s state of disruption, and a clear plan is never articulated.

When this happens, middle management are left unsure as to how they should direct their team, which means lower staff members are left completely in the dark. They might have a couple of ideas about what could happen, but ultimately these people are the one’s feeling the most anxious because they have no control over what’s going on in the organisation.

Addressing the people issues associated with disruption

Leaders need to understand how identifying key people issues during times of disruption can help shape successful change initiatives. If you don’t do this, staff become disengaged because they don’t understand how the change will directly affect them.

Often there are challenges to achieving this. This may be because:

  • Change management processes are not clearly articulated, or
  • Experience and knowledge is not shared evenly within the team.

The skills and support needed to help overcome these challenges, are often provided by a coach. Coaches can be leveraged to help leaders map out a plan of action and keep them accountable to the organisation’s objectives, as well as their personal goals for success.

Not only this, but coaches can guide leaders through periods of disruption to help them express the impact it will have on staff, and explain what the future looks like for employees. By addressing these concerns right from the beginning, staff will be better equipped to handle the disruption and take the necessary next steps.

And if the change isn’t going to create positive outcomes for everyone in the organisation, leaders can rely upon their coach to help initiate these difficult conversations, so staff aren’t left in the dark.

Implementing customised coaching to successfully manage disruption

When navigating these peak periods of disruption, it’s critical that organisations focus on building up their leaders’ capabilities to address the people side of change. By implementing a customised coaching program, organisations can ensure their leaders have the skills to successfully manage change and lead their business forward.

At Choice Career Services, we manage the human impact of change every day. We provide access to high quality coaches who have extensive experience in this area, and we put a strong focus on measurement so you can continuously validate your return on investment.

If you would like to understand how a customised coaching program can enhance your team’s leadership capability and equip them with the people skills to lead through this period of disruption, call us on 1800 823 213.