As in every aspect of life, business is not static. There are booms and busts in markets, consumer preferences change, and even the most established processes can be revolutionized by new technologies.
Positive change can be very positive. Change can build resilience, open us up to new perspectives, and provide opportunities that we didn’t see coming.
Change can be difficult, but it is also possible to feel uncomfortable in this age of rapid technological change. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI), are disrupting entire industries. This includes real estate where algorithms can read millions upon millions of documents from homebuyers in seconds. It also applies to medicine where AI can read X-rays more quickly and accurately than radiologists.
This holds true for finance just as much as for any other industry. Automation is a certainty for all accounting firms, large and small, as well as the accounts payable (AP), function which can be tedious. I’ve helped many companies with these changes and witnessed all aspects of employee reactions, from excitement, motivation, rapid adoption, to skepticism, and resistance.
Regardless of the reactions, change is well underway and has unlimited potential. Business leaders, from HR executives to CFOs must help their teams navigate these changes as well as understand the opportunities.
Many companies view their employees as their greatest asset. This is especially true in times of change.
My experience shows that the attitude of employees towards technological change is the most important factor in how a company adopts new technologies. Recognizing the potential benefits for their company, as well as their job satisfaction, future career prospects and skill sets, is a key factor in employees’ willingness to embrace and even lead these changes.
Learn how to identify your individual skills and then train accordingly.
Leaders must not only show the journey but also set each employee up for success. Innovations in finance, from digital spreadsheets to adding machines, have always resulted in job changes. But they also create new opportunities.
These innovations are vital in finance. Prophix’s recent study showed that 86% CFOs felt they needed professionals’ skills to improve their forecasting and continuous planning. AI solutions in AP have already freed accountants and clerks of data entry, approvals, and three-way matchmaking, allowing them to do more cerebral, rewarding work.
Leaders who are able to plan ahead will identify and train employees for new opportunities. This work should not be done in isolation. A conversation with affected employees about their interests can help them stay more engaged and invested.
People with good interpersonal skills may be able to negotiate with vendors or advise clients. People with a business mindset are able to help create financial strategies. Department leaders must work with HR to ensure that their employees achieve their potential.
Empower your first adopters to be ambassadors.
Leaders should identify the people in their teams who are most enthusiastic about innovation and equip them with the messages and tools they need to be change ambassadors.