Think about the generations of life experiences within your workforce. They weren’t all born since the age of cell phones or even laptops. When companies face large-scale-change such as an ERP transformation, traditional leadership thinking has focused on the technology itself, and not the generations of the workforce involved. “The workforce will just have to adjust.” End of story! But…does this mindset work? Does it net the results leadership believes it will? The answer is, frankly: probably not.  But if you want to take this (multi-) million dollar risk, go for it.

The typical workplace today has up to five generations comprising its workforce. Research has shown that for a successful, sustainable change – one that sticks and one that endures – each generation needs and deserves a different approach to change based on how they view both work and life.

In the high-stakes situation of an ERP Transformation, you have high risk…but, high reward. How you handle change as a leader and as an organization will determine that reward. What and How will you choose to do it?

  • Do you command, dictate, tell and direct in a “this is what we Require you to do” mode?
  • Do you advance it a degree and operate in a “geez, I sure hope this ends up ok and people do what I Desire them to do” mode?
  • Or do you Aspire to Inspire? Do you approach this moment in leadership as not only a way to achieve the technological or operational improvement, but, also as a way to develop capabilities, harness an eager workforce, and provide an engaging atmosphere of “winning”?

This is important to address because effective change management is one of the most important factors to success in an ERP transformation. Outside of selecting the best ERP system for your company and business needs, change management is next in line in importance for what will make-or-break the investment.

Do not fall into the easy trap of thinking of this as a ‘soft’ or optional part of your ERP transformation. On the contrary, change translates to cold, hard facts of project cost, ROI, and efficiency. As I’ve discussed in a previous post, Change Management is Risk Management. One of your greatest risks is failing to address change in a way your workforce will relate to and make personal. And this will cost you.

In upcoming posts, I will discuss the business case, key points of each generation, and the workforce factors a company should be prepared to address for successful ERP Transformation. Please keep in mind that these conclusions are generalizations. Change happens at the “pace of the individual”. Individuals are all, well, individual. However, there are overarching concepts for each generation that act as a reliable and extremely useful guide. I’ll discuss the profiles of each of the five generations in today’s workplace: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and finally Generation Z. Key points will include:

  • What they care about
  • How they work
  • How you can successfully address change with each

Remember: no matter how you want your workforce to accept change in theory, the reality is that change happens at the pace of the individual. When you work successfully with this realization, you will be able to capably and artfully move from Require to Desire to Inspire. You’ll be amazed at the results for your organization.

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Bill Lewis

Bill has a proven track record of supporting organizations in large scale change, transition, and growth. Grounded in business fundamentals & values, his work has consistently supported overall business strategies. He brings extensive expertise and experience in sustainable change leadership and all facets of change, communication, education theories, and implementations. He is also a owner/partner of OpEx Realization Group, LLC., and coupled with business leadership experience, he is comfortable in "board room to shop floor" situations.