The history books are littered with organisations who failed to anticipate, plan and adapt to changes their industry’s faced.
Inevitably, this change revolved around an introduction of or improvement in technologies that supported parts of or all of the functions of these businesses, such as with Blockbuster and Kodak.
Even businesses that were setup in the era of the Internet, such as MySpace, fell by the wayside when failing to respond quickly enough with the pace of change we’re now becoming familiar with in the 21st Century. MySpace were quickly surpassed by organisations like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram who saw the direction the industry was taking and the new opportunities this would bring and who enabled their businesses to adapt with and lead this change.
As these examples show, knowing how to respond to change isn’t a skill everyone possesses. Even the most experienced leaders can find it difficult to identify upcoming changes and even when change has been anticipated, leading that change successfully within a business can prove very difficult.
Think of a time you have been involved with change, whether that’s professionally or personally, there is upheaval, resistance, ambiguity, uncertainty, all the things that a business wants desperately to avoid. But how?
We know that effective leadership is one of the biggest drivers in a successful business, even more so when that business is facing change. We also know that leadership roles are often filled with those who have little to no experience in leading and managing teams. Often, they attain these roles because of their technical competence and are promoted to leadership positions with the hope they can inspire the team to achieve the same heights.
Because of this, leaders are often lacking requisite skills which they only develop through in-role and through more experience. However, that’s assuming they are given the chance to develop these skills by being kept in post and that their experiences and learning are providing them with the knowledge needed to become better leaders.
A 2018 study of the top 100 employers in the UK provided evidence of the importance of investing in employee development. From the increased retention of employees, better productivity and higher turnover, there is a lot of evidence to suggest effective training is extremely beneficial to organisations. However, in the turbulent world of business, training can often be overlooked, restricted or removed when trying to keep costs down.
One key area that is undermined when training is not a focus of a business is leadership and due to the importance and impact leadership has on an organisation, this can have a huge affect on the success, or otherwise, of a business, particularly when navigating change.
One approach businesses have taken is to utilise their apprenticeship levy (see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-levy/apprenticeship-levy) in order to support and develop key colleagues and roles, not only focussing on front-line positions but also for the development of leaders throughout the business.