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Vive la Révolution

Mark Crocker - October 21, 2019 - 0 comments

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, commonly known as Industry 4.0, appears to be changing the way businesses function. Organizations must decide how and where to invest in these new technologies and identify which ones might best meet their needs. Without a full understanding of the changes and opportunities Industry 4.0 brings, companies risk losing ground to the competition.

The rise of smart automation and ubiquitous, connected systems in the age of Industry 4.0 appears to herald a change in what organizations could ask of their workers: what skills they require, what tasks need to be done, even what roles would be needed.

Contrary to certain prejudices and misconceptions, employees can learn to behave in new ways and learn to take on new roles. It is no good, however, if the senior leadership just tell the front line what to do. People learn only if they are motivated, hence the importance of meaningful work, and if what they learn is based on experience of what does and doesn’t work, of feeling good when something is done well, of watching and emulating role models.

People learn new behaviours when they become aware of their own inhibiting mind-sets. They typically gain insight into these mind-sets through feedback, reflection on their own successes and failures, and stories about other people. The effort of self-discovery must be well guided by role models and led by leaders from the front line all the way to the top.  These leaders must embody the desired mind-sets about the job, the customers, the company, its products, and its wider role or purpose.

In the same way that grown-ups can’t teach children to control their emotions just by telling them to do so, training programs can’t teach adults to behave in a different way. Children watch their parents; employees watch their leaders and adopt what seems to work and what they perceive to be acceptable to the company.

So it follows that role modeling succeeds only if the role models authentically exhibit the sort of behaviours that they should be passing on to others. Effective leaders i.e. those doing the right things, perform 20 percent more effectively largely because they motivate and coach their people.

The change required in Industry 4.0 requires change at the leadership level first. Raising the skill and the will of leaders involves the same degree of self-discovery that frontline employees should experience.

The necessary skills include identifying opportunities to improve the customer experience and the company’s performance, coaching and having tough conversations with employees, and facilitating frontline mentoring and coaching.

Learning new behaviours in this evolutionary dawn is hard and yet companies can take concrete steps to improve the capabilities of their people. Doing so can pay off in improved corporate and individual performance, better team and individual effectiveness and a sustainable business model in the new world of Industry 4.0….Vive la Révolution!

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