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Fearless - How safety and trust can help financial services


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Accenture research shows ‘fear, anxiety and threat’ is the greatest inhibitor of change in the financial services (FS) industry, way higher than the average for all industries, primarily because of concerns regarding job losses. Trust and psychological safety within the workplace, on the other hand, are the antidotes to fear, encouraging and supporting innovation and behavioral change.

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Fearless - How safety and trust can help financial services

  2. 2. OVERCOMING FEAR OF CHANGE TO SUCCEED IN A DIGITAL AGE Financial services (FS) organizations recognize they must master change as a core capability to thrive in a world where technology, regulation, consumer needs and expectations, and the competitive landscape are all changing at high speed. Yet Accenture research shows ‘fear, anxiety and threat’ is the greatest inhibitor of change in the FS industry. Trust within the workplace, on the other hand, is the antidote to fear, encouraging and supporting innovation and behavioral change.
  3. 3. Fear and anxiety in the workforce are preventing many FS organizations from achieving the desired outcomes from their change capabilities and programs. • Accenture’s bottom-up Transformation GPS research confirms that fear and anxiety are the most significant negative drivers for FS teams and employees when it comes to organizational change. • Likewise, the FS Change Survey shows leaders are aware that the human factor is critical. Some 76% said staff’s inability to adapt to change was a major barrier to their ability to drive through change. ANXIETY, THREAT AND FEAR ARE DERAILING CHANGE 74% of leaders in the Accenture FS change survey said fear of change as a result of a poor track record was one of their greatest obstacles in effecting successful change.
  4. 4. Accenture research indicates that an organization’s ability to realize the benefits of change declines significantly as levels of fear and anxiety rise. • The combination of anxiety and fear means that change in FS currently plays out in a ‘Yes, But’ landscape. People are aligned with the need for change, but fearful of its impact. • The high level of anxiety about change and digital transformation in the workforce is best understood in the context of a decade of cost cutting and job losses since the financial crisis. • Yet these fears and anxieties co-exist with more positive views about the future. People are prepared to learn new skills and believe digital technologies will create new opportunities for humans. People in FS organizations are broadly aligned with the need for change, but many feel they lack the resources—skills, systems, tools, and supportive structures— they need to contribute meaningfully. THE ‘YES, BUT’ ENVIRONMENT
  5. 5. Fear and anxiety are natural responses to change, but they can inhibit desired behavioral changes, stifle creativity and collaboration, and reduce motivation and performance. • They affect employees’ self-confidence. They fear they will be irrelevant in a changing world. • Fear and anxiety drain people of their motivation and imagination, diminishing their ability to think rationally about the workplace, and shrinking their view of the world. • It is difficult for teams or individuals trapped in a fearful or anxious state of mind to learn new skills and patterns of behavior. FEAR AND ANXIETY DAMAGE PERFORMANCE, INNOVATION AND CHANGE When someone is in a state of fear or anxiety, the instinctive brain takes control and the rational, analytical mind struggles to assert itself.
  6. 6. The human brain has enough plasticity to unlearn fear and rebuild trust. • The most successful and productive environments for change will be those that have the pace and demands to challenge people, yet which remain safe places for people to learn and experiment. • To combat anxiety, FS organizations that excel at change empower their people and create an environment in which people trust each other, their leaders and the vision driving the business. • Our analysis indicates that leadership at all levels has at least twice the impact on business performance as any other factor. In the Accenture Transformation GPS study, the “vision and direction” of business leaders consistently has three to four times greater impact than any other factor on the organization’s success at realizing the benefits of change. UNLEARNING FEAR AND REBUILDING TRUST When people in the business trust each other, their leaders and managers, and believe in the vision of the business, it gives them access to a reservoir of resources, expertise and ideas. This enables them to realize their potential and to feel more empowered in their part of the business’s change journey.
  7. 7. To reduce the negative impact fear and anxiety have on their organizations and change programs, leaders at FS organizations must create trusted environments where employees feel safe and where change is supported. • People need support and time to adjust how they work, to adopt new technologies and to acquire new skills. • Not only must leaders inspire trust, they must also stamp out workplace bullying, harassment, discrimination and other behaviors that enable fear to flourish. RECONCILING THE VISION FOR CHANGE WITH THE REALITY Leaders and managers must recognize that it takes time to build trust and a moment to create fear and anxiety.
  8. 8. 3 PILLARS FOR HUMAN- CENTERED CHANGE Taking a human-centered approach to change starts by considering the organizational and team culture the business needs to thrive. To realign the organization around new ways of working while lowering levels of threat and anxiety, leadership at every level must inspire change. • Find your inner purpose. • Be proactive. • Communicate early. • Seek diverse views. • Understand the origins of fear in the workforce. • Engage each person in their change journey. • Remove barriers. • Reframe threats as opportunities. • Address social concerns. • Don’t allow change to become insular. ACTIVATE LEADERSHIP 1.
  9. 9. 3 PILLARS FOR HUMAN- CENTERED CHANGE Shift mindsets from ‘don’t rock the boat’ and ‘follow the process’ to ‘trust, test, fail, learn, and fearlessly challenge the orthodoxy’: • Address legacy trust deficits. • Celebrate experimentation, learn from failure. • Help people shift behaviors and mindsets. • Create good work. • Engage employees in co-creation of change. • Focus on grit and resilience. • Give people space to change. SHIFT BEHAVIORS & MINDSETS 2.
  10. 10. 3 PILLARS FOR HUMAN- CENTERED CHANGE Realign the organization, its culture, practices, processes and people behind the goals of the change or transformation program: • Build trust at every layer of the organization. • Redesign work and teams to offer people more autonomy and safety. • Adopt agile methodologies and other techniques that enable small, iterative steps to change. • Adopt design thinking to rethink the employee experience. • Continuously upskill people to create a sustainable workforce. • Break down organizational silos to improve teamwork and leadership, and open access to new ideas and resources. ALIGN THE ORGANIZATION 3.
  11. 11. VANQUISHING THE FEAR OF CHANGE All too many FS organizations fall into the trap of creating a negative narrative about the future, one that causes uncertainty and distress for their workforce. But change can be reframed as an opportunity for the workforce when people trust in corporate leadership, the organization’s vision and their colleagues. To create an environment where employees feel safe, relish change and embrace behaviors that drive enterprise agility, FS organizations must provide the right leadership, offer a compelling vision for the future, rethink their business structures, and create a new ‘living business’ culture. Most of all, they must build and sustain trust. Those that do will lead in a world where the ability to change is an FS organization’s most important differentiator.
  12. 12. THANK YOU ACCENTURE.COM strategy | consulting | digital | technology | operations