Climate crisis, energy crisis, pension crisis, skilled labor crisis, migration crisis, social crisis, financial crisis, economic crisis, international crises. They accumulated in 2023 to create a polycrisis for German companies. This and management failures caused former beacons of the German economy to falter or even collapse: Arco, Bayer, Bosch, Gigaset, Haba, Haniel, Peek & Cloppenburg, Peter Hahn, Playmobil, Signa, Sportcheck. And what about next year? For viadoo GmbH, a leading service provider for planning and managing change initiatives, it is these top five change leadership trends 2024:
Table of contents:
1. Polycrisis will persist in 2024
Given the current situation, it is unlikely that the polycrisis will disappear in 2024. Deutsche Bank is even forecasting a recession of -0.2 %. In addition to shrinking corporate investment, this is also due to below-average growth in the global economy. As a result, the viadoo experts expect further bankruptcies and turnarounds with downsizing, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions executives have to cope with in the coming year. According to the German Ifo Institute for Economic Research, this is likely to affect the construction industry, energy suppliers as well as financial and insurance service providers in particular. So that’s number one of viadoo’s change leadership trends 2024.
2. Responsibility on employee’s mental health
All change projects designed to overcome the polycrisis will not succeed without truly caring about employees. On one side this includes convincing, motivating, involving, and empowering employees. On the other side this also means that companies need to deal with sensitive topics (e.g. Burn-out) and take over responsibility. As the next change leadership trend 2024, viadoo therefore sees a growing awareness of this context and, as a result, an increasing importance of the human factor for executives.
Because the polycrisis is also putting multiple stresses on people, viadoo’s graduate psychologist Verena Schinerl even assumes that German companies need to place an additional focus on the mental health of their employees in 2024: “In view of the polycrisis, HR departments should invest in knowledge transfer of mental health topics. They might want to strengthen the empathy skills of their executives. They should be trained in appreciative communication, listening and understanding. Finally, all employees should be trained in techniques to cope with stress.”
3. Growing need for leadership self-reflection
viadoo also sees a change leadership trend towards self-reflection, particularly among young executives. “More and more HR departments are recognising that young leaders need to give themselves a set of values in their new role and generate a set of rules for their behaviour,” reports viadoo coach Claudia Werner.
Many of the young people are initially not even aware that they are facing potential conflicts in their new role, for example between closeness and distance or between trust and control. This is particularly true with regard to the above-mentioned polycrisis and the associated change projects. This is a major challenge for all managers. Unfortunately, most of them fail – precisely because they do not take social and emotional aspects into account in good time or in the right way.
4. Appreciation of communication as key
An increasing number of top executives is embracing the importance of professional (internal) communication for the success of change projects. “This may well lead to companies working with a change management service provider and a communications agency at the same time during a change initiative or transformation,” says viadoo’s change and communications expert Dominik Faust.
A clear allocation of roles is crucial for the success of such a three-way constellation. “And, of course, everyone involved must be aware that communication is not a substitute for change management, but an important tool for it,” Dominik points out.
In change projects where external communications professionals are not to be involved, viadoo has a wish for 2024. Companies with a corporate (internal) communications department should involve them as early as the design phase of a change initiative or transformation. “Unfortunately, in 2023 we again observed top executives pushing their internal communications department into the unfulfillable role of a saviour. Just when they realised after months that their transformation was failing,” the viadoo founder concludes.
5. Artificial Intelligence in Change Management
Finally, viadoo assumes that further artificial intelligence systems will be used to manage change projects in 2024. Generative AI systems can already support transformation communications, for example. Other AI tools combine collected data to provide insights into the employee sentiments, potential resistance or the actual progress of change projects.
“We at viadoo will continue to follow with great interest what technical AI experts predict on this topic in 2024,” says the viadoo CEO. This includes AI-supported change management systems being able to provide valid statements about the possible effects of changes, risks and success factors on the basis of corresponding data. This would include stakeholder and change impact analyses. Change agents would receive AI-generated recommendations so that they could focus more on the social and emotional aspects of change initiatives.
viadoo GmbH is specialised in social and emotional aspects of changes. Like a solid Roman viaduct, we connect executives and teams (via) and help them lead transformations to success in a hands-on manner (doo). With our holistic approach and communicative methods we design change initiatives, stabilise performances of teams, inspire them to a shift of mindset, and implement trust. So that your transformation will succeed too!