“Primarily because change threatens self-interest,” says Daniel Lock, principal of Daniel Lock Consulting.
In any organization there are a variety of stakeholders, and therefore competing self-interests, he says.
“What the manager needs to do is align those self-interests and clearly call out what strategic directions there are and how they will benefit their colleagues or their peers so that they are all in alignment,” says Lock.
“Most leaders and managers vastly underestimate how hard it is to change behaviour.”
Lock says that SMEs are typically growing very fast and may be having rapid changes from year to year, depending on what the economy is doing.
Therefore, getting effective and efficient communication right is probably the most important action for change, he says.
The significance of communication
Lock argues that it's crucial that the change messages be aligned, simple, clear and repetitive.
“Ongoing communication will help overcome resistance and also allows employees a say in the process,” he says.
This must go beyond regular emails and should involve a variety of forms, such as physical handouts, daily briefings and business meetings, adds Lock.
Why technology alone does not drive productivity
From the 1900s up until the 1970s there was a huge boom in productivity for the world generally, says Lock.
However, from the 1970s to the 1990s there was flat productivity growth for the western world as a whole, despite huge investments in IT, he says.
“What really happened with technology investments between the 70s and 90s was that the world hadn’t really worked out how to use the new technology effectively,” says Lock.
He argues that productivity is typically improved through specialisation and division of labour.
“What organizations have to do is take full advantage of productivity to make people make the most of technology. This includes subdividing and specialising process and roles, making them more specialised to take advantage of the division of labour.”
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