HR must lead the way in the digital workplace


Yesterday, the Smarter Change Network met in Malmö. The event was hosted by Malin Grundström at Elfa International while Stina Berggren, Regional Business Director at Atea, provided inspirational insights. The network is made up of leaders with a focus on HR and competence development.

The event was all about the impact of the digital workplace. New technology has brought a wave of change in how we work both on our own and with co-workers. Microsoft’s new Office 365 suite is about to usher in even more new opportunities. But it’s unfortunate that the digital workplace is usually driven more by technological breakthroughs than employee needs and behaviour. It’s time for the HR department to step up. We have to get our heads around how technology is driving new behaviour that competes with current company culture and work habits.

The network agreed that the impact of the digital workplace is business critical and that successfully implementing new technology comes down to one thing: leadership.

Your leaders will determine how smoothly people transition to new work habits. Cultural barriers and ingrained behaviour must be identified and taken seriously. Many in the network shared stories of implementing new software that never reached its potential. Learning from these missteps is critical – we’re in the midst of a workplace upheaval on a scale we haven’t seen since the computer revolution of the early 90’s.

The network came up with a few key ways to ensure success in the digital workplace:

Make time to understand your leaders.
Find out what drives them, what they fear about new ways of working, how they feel about increased transparency and knowledge sharing, their attitude towards digital tools, etc.

Get your leaders to loosen the reins.
The need for control is often a barrier to development. Help your leaders see the value of putting more decisions in the hands of employees. A leader no longer has to be the one with all the answers in a more openly collaborative workplace. Let them be the first to try out new tools. Describe good examples in business terms. The ones who dive right in are the leaders you want to put at the forefront.

Leaders must spearhead a shift in how we hire.
The most important qualities when looking for new employees today are talent and a willingness to change. The only thing we know for sure is that things are changing fast and show no signs of slowing down. An impressive CV doesn’t reveal how adaptable and driven to learn a person is. And those are qualities you’re going to need to unlock the potential of the digital workplace.

The Rendahl Model™ – an introduction

Knowing what matters to people deep down is the key to inspiring successful change. Watch professor Jan Erik Rendahl explain briefly about the scientific theory on existential core values, and how these affect us in our approach to change. With this theory as the base Symbal provides both target group analyzes for change communication and advice on how to build productive change teams.

(More films are available at Vimeo and Youtube)

Change Trap 7#


The planning is done and it’s time to roll out your change initiative. But there’s a problem: your middle managers don’t have the knowledge to answer all the questions they’re going to get and they haven’t taken those first key steps of a change process – going from resistance to engagement.

This happens when middle managers aren’t considered an important target in your change communication. If you’re a manager, it’s simply assumed you’ll jump right on board, you’re loyal to the company and you’ll do whatever it takes to make the company’s strategic initiative happen.

This assumption slams shut a huge opportunity.

Give your middle managers time to take it all in. Help them explore what’s going to be different and let them think through the consequences – before they start getting all the questions. When it comes to driving change, a middle manager that acts like a change leader is your most convincing communication channel.

Change Trap – “Why?”

Why should we? If you have a strong answer to that question you can create both commitment and understanding of the change you’re trying to implement. But why is often forgotten. By constantly leaving out the why, you risk creating a reactive attitude in your organization. Give why its due and it will give you an advantage as a leader. A well thought out why addresses basic human mechanisms like uncertainty, doubt and skepticism. So next time you see a why left out on it’s own – pick it up and take care of it. An engaging answer can make the impossible possible.


Change Trap – “The Ketchup Effect”

Dreaming of change? Our advice: Go slow! ”The Ketchup Effect” illustrates a common trap when change happens too fast. You continue to shake the bottle of change and suddenly it all comes flooding out at once, without proper anchoring with employees. A common mistake often made by leaders of companies, and project organisations, is that they try to move too fast from development into implementation. Involve middle management and key players. Make them ambassadors and secure their engagement. In this way, you can control the flow before unscrewing the bottle.


Total Customer Insight

Just think about it… If all your employees and business partners shared the same view of whom the customers really are.

Imagine that every employee makes the right decisions at the right time based on insights about what triggers customer decisions. Imagine that every new product, service or campaign you make is based on probabilities rather than guesses. What would you make of all this?

Total Customer Insight is an interdisciplinary methodology that builds on expertise in market research, statistics, computer science, communication and learning. It is a unique offer in the market. Together with a leading expert in consumer analysis, Christer Sjökvist, Director, Business Development at the research firm Ipsos, Symbals experts have developed a unique concept.

Would you like to know more please contact Peter Gustafson (, Symbal or Christer Sjökvist, Ipsos (

Watch the movie about one of our joint cases at Stena Line in Gothenburg.

Jens Axelsson talks about Blue Ocean from Symbal Communication on Vimeo.

YouTube inside?

The only scientifically proven methods of enhancing behaviour change for the better, is positive feedback. Put your ear to the ground and pay attention to small steps of change. Confirm the change by telling success stories. But do also let the employees tell the stories. Imagine film. Think YouTube inside. We can help!