The COVID-19 pandemic inspired manufacturers to speed up their digital transformation and Industry 4.0 programs. These efforts will provide manufacturers with greater visibility, resilience, efficiency, flexibility and, ultimately, enable them to compete better for business. At the heart of any successful digital transformation is change management and employees are its most important component. All these efforts will not be worthwhile if employees do not adopt the new working style.

Employees must believe in the new program and understand it if they are to be willing to accept it. This must be both an organizational and personal benefit. If employees do not believe the new method is better for everyone and it is not managed properly, they will most likely return to what they know and what they are used to.

When it comes to managing change, manufacturing CEOs need to lead the way in large-scale initiatives like digital transformation.

Managing Constant Change for a Successful Digital Transformation

Businesses go through constant change. Even if an organization is not going through digital transformation, the CEO must deal with change management on a daily basis. Digital transformation is a fast-paced process of change and requires special attention.

A top-down approach to implementing drastic change within an organization is one of the most common mistakes CEOs make.

Employees who use Lean or other methods are more involved in key initiatives’ success and have greater decision-making authority in day-to-day operations. If a factory worker sees a problem, they can stop the line and make changes. However, any changes that do not include their input from the top will be met with a cold reception.

The CEO must make sure that everyone supports the change process. This means that everyone can participate and contribute. If a new technology requires changes on the shop floor, then everyone involved should have a part in the change process. This includes the evaluation phase.

Let’s suppose that a manufacturer is using custom-built, disconnected systems and that the C-suite decides that the company needs an ERP platform to standardize its operation. Make sure to include employees who will be most affected by the system’s implementation.

Employees need to be able to influence the design of the changes that will affect their work when the system has been chosen. This will help to build a culture within the company that is open to change and will encourage it.

Communication Is Key

Change management is all about communication. The people in charge must remember that communication is not just about telling people what to do. It is more about how they exchange ideas and information.

The CEO will not manage these changes on a daily basis, but will instead work closely with the COO, and other senior leaders, to ensure that all business units follow the same playbook.

This can be frustrating, but it is an essential function. This is when a CEO makes sure that the right message gets across and that there is mutual understanding between business functions.

This primary role of ensuring interpretation is essential for a company to continue moving forward. It provides visibility throughout the organization. This allows managers to explain clearly to other teams why certain things must happen in a certain way to achieve a successful digital transformation.

When things do not go according to plan, the CEO or COO intervenes and asks the reasons. Then, they work with the teams to come up with a solution. This boils down to making sure miscommunications are identified and then resolved. A CEO must be tough when individuals’ priorities or objectives clash with the overall strategy and direction of the company.

If the person in charge feels that all they do is make sure people are talking, looking at the same information, and pulling in the exact same direction when managing a digital transition, then they are doing a good job.

Without this shared understanding, any gaps in communication will only grow and cause more problems. These in turn could lead to fragmentation and loss of productivity and profitability.

As an organization plans for change, and then executes it, it is crucial that everyone understands their stake and has a say in the outcome.

As manufacturers go digital, the CEOs of these companies must be able to manage change. Not only must they communicate where the company is heading and why it is changing, but they must also include everyone in the change management process. Then everyone will work together for success.