Today, there’s no question the financial services industry, along with the entire global economy, is being disrupted by unprecedented amounts of change triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pressure for businesses to digitally transform is insurmountable, and rapid adaptations have become essential for survival and success. Amidst this pressure, financial institutions continue to value working with fintech partners to support the implementation of innovative technologies to keep up with ever-changing customer demands and competitive pressures.
Despite the emphasis on speed, however, it is important that people remain a constant, central focus of the process. As such, a new, broadly applicable approach to change management is necessary to ensure clients, customers, and employees reach and maintain success. The creation of innovative solutions, made possible by tapping into lucrative fintech partnerships and digital initiatives, should be focused on building a strong, organizational culture that will effectively support people through these changes.
As we put people first in the change model, some of our partners, and one regional northeast bank in particular, recently reinforced how thinking outside the box can pay it forward for change. The CEO utilized an innovative approach to leverage the role of bankers in the process. Rather than give the core responsibility to the digital and IT teams, he provided bankers and sales professionals a seat at the transformation table. By integrating front-end bankers into the core change management team, high performing bankers were able to think about front-end, client-facing concerns that other members of the team may not have experienced.
While many foundational change practices remain critical to success, true transformation means continually evolving the process, especially for a people-first approach that is cognizant of ever-shifting disruptions facing our world today:
- Create Change Equity and Ownership: Today, it’s more important than ever that people feel valued and empowered within their organization, given the unpredictable changes they have had to withstand. Whether it’s a community bank, a national credit union, or a large enterprise bank, a change strategist must seek out ways to give professionals ownership over change. If employees understand the individual impact if a transformation fails, there’s an increased appetite for individuals to own change efforts and succeed.
- Be Inclusive of Different Experiences and Perspectives: Similar to how we approach diversity of perspective and thought in many aspects of the workplace, the same value is tangible to change management. A diversity of perspective can inform smart decision-making and change agents should come from different roles and departments to help formulate a holistic strategy. True change champions recognize the benefits of bringing different voices to the table to navigate and manage rapid change in a way that bolsters success.
- Remember to Build Trust: Normally, one of the most common reasons people in operational and other functions are resistant to digital transformation comes from fear, and mostly, fear of losing their jobs. However, in the midst of a global crisis, establishing trust before change occurs is not always possible. People have been forced to adopt changes rapidly, regardless of how uncomfortable they may feel with the application. Implementing a clear procedure that highlights benefits to the business, but also reassures the benefits to employees and their everyday roles and responsibilities is a step toward success. You need to proactively reassure your team in order to build trust that your recommendations for change transitions are credible and valued.
My own experiences with digital transformation at both big and small banks alike revealed constantly changing, industry-wide barriers to transformation, and most were actually not technical. It’s part of the reason I’ve shifted my career to focus on change management and help shine a light on the critical role people play in our success. In a globally connected, digital world facing constant, now extreme change, there is no greater investment to make than investing in your people and supporting them through times of great uncertainty.
– Greg Thompson, Director of Change Management, nCino
Learn more about nCino’s approach to change management and digital transformation by downloading the complimentary white paper “Supporting Innovation Through a Culture of Change”.