Aussie companies too conservative over change: Report

Almost 90% of senior decision-makers consider change an “extremely high” or “high” priority within their business, new research shows, but are bound by a conservative approach to change.


Canon Australia recently conducted two surveys to determine what it takes to implement successful change within an organisation.


The first survey consists of 300 business owners and senior decision-makers responsible for change, while the second consists of 700 office-based workers not responsible for change.


The research reveals 88% of senior-decision makers consider change an “extremely high” or “high” priority, identifying cost efficiencies and increased productivity as some of the benefits.


Senior decision-makers ranked Australian businesses fourth with regard to their willingness to change, beaten only by China, India and the United States.


Employee respondents were more optimistic, ranking Australian firms equal first with China.


Meanwhile, both groups believe their business would be left behind if it failed to change – this was the case for 87% of the senior decision-makers surveyed, and 67% of the employees.


While both groups agree change is important (86%), the research reveals only 39% of Australian businesses embrace it, while only 49% take a proactive stance on change.


Resistance to change was considered the biggest barrier, identified by 30% of senior decision-makers and 37% of employees.


This was followed by a lack of vision or understanding by executives, along with a lack of leadership from senior management, cited by employees.


Across both surveys, fear of the unknown was identified as the main reason people are resistant to change, followed by people liking the way they currently work.


Other reasons included a lack of trust in new systems, a lack of trust in management direction, and too much change already occurring within the organisation.


An interesting finding from the research is the gap between how effective business leaders feel they are when it comes to implementing change, versus how effective employees think they are.


The research reveals 84% of senior decision-makers said they have the necessary skills to deliver change, but only 47% of employees felt the same way about their leaders’ skills.


Critically, 92% of employees believe good communication is required to help deliver change within their organisation, followed by vision (88%).


Meanwhile, 83% believe imagination, and understanding an idea, is required when dealing with change.


Craig Manson, director of business imaging at Canon Australia, says the research shows that the majority of businesses subscribe to the theory that change is important to their future prospects.


“The research also said that most companies and individuals struggle with change… There’s clear evidence there is a conservative approach to change,” Manson says.


“Technology is at the heart of change. 43% of business leaders say technological change will be the biggest driver of change in the next 10 years.”


“It’s about organisations looking at how their business is evolving and growing, and working out how technology can align the business as an enabler of growth.”


“It’s also a constant evolution – it’s not a one-off and it’s certainly not a project. It’s about going beyond technology alone and delivering the best outcomes.”


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