How Online Learning Prepares You to Lead Organizational Change

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Organizational change has become a permanent aspect of the business world, and it’s not hard to see why. Over the course of a decade, new markets have emerged, technologies have advanced rapidly, and more diverse populations have joined the labor pool. As a result, businesses sometimes need to make necessary changes in order to stay relevant and keep up with the times.

For managers who are in charge of guiding employees through these organizational changes, it’s important that the transitions happen as seamlessly as possible. However, research suggests that widespread changes across a company are not easy to transition into.

“The costs are high when change efforts go wrong,” DeAnne Aguirre and Micah Alpern, experts in culture, leadership, and organizational change management write, “Not only financially, but in confusion, lost opportunity, wasted resources, and diminished morale.”

Many businesses have a long ways to go. According to recent surveys of global senior executives on culture and change management, “the success rate of major change initiatives is only 54 percent.”

Clearly, there is room for improvement when it comes to adequately managing systemic changes in company structure, and Online MBA graduates may have a leg up on their peers when it comes to managing these kinds of organizational changes.

Experience with Technology and Remote Work

Over the past 20 years, technology has disrupted ways in which employees interact and function in the workplace. For many companies, giving employees the option to telecommute or work outside of the more traditional brick-and-mortar landscape has proven to increase employee productivity, improve employee retention, and enhance the company’s bottom line.

“Remote work offers several benefits–for both the business and the environment,” Marylhurst MBA alumni Janet Friday notes. “Because I am not commuting to an office…I have more time to devote to my work activities. I also find that I can be more focused and efficient in my work when I am working from home. Technology has made it easy to talk to my colleagues around the world and share computer screens with the touch of a button.”

As geographically disbursed teams become increasingly more common, managers will have to learn to overcome some of the challenges that come from managing people who may not be physically present in the workspace.

Those who have experience in online learning platforms are all too familiar with what it takes to be successful in remote work model. As such, graduates familiar with online learning are fully equipped to adapt to new technologies, engage with remote employees in a meaningful way, establish routines, and encourage team bonding.

Furthermore, managers who are comfortable using technology are better positioned to guide and encourage other staff to also take advantage of new resources that could further develop and advance business practices.

Ability to Engage With Diverse Populations

Regardless of the sector you’re a part of, the ability to effectively engage with others is an important part of management. Good managers understand that building alliances, communicating effectively, and creating a collaborative atmosphere are essential to employee productivity and success. Those skills can be honed through online degree programs.

Through online learning, students learn how to effectively build relationships and complete projects with students and superiors that they may never have the chance to meet face-to-face. Communicating to entire groups of people through email, discussion board, or instant messenger is a common part of the online college experience, so it’s no wonder that graduates finish their degrees with the skills necessary to apply that in a modern work setting.

While managers are certainly required to be technically adept in order to effectively communicate with employees, there are other factors which make employee engagement an important aspect of management.

Cross-cultural and multi-generational teams have become a staple in the modern global workforce. Because of this, it’s vital that managers are able to connect with various groups of people that may be culturally diverse or come to the table with different skillsets.

“The online program especially opens up the ability to have a diverse pool of students from all over the country [and] internationally,” says Christopher Coryell, a Marylhurst Online MBA graduate. “I was talking to students in every time zone, I was talking to students from other countries, people from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures and we were all coming together and learning from each other.”

According to The Heritage Foundation, those with a background in online learning may be better prepared to manage and work with people whose background could be drastically different from their own.

“Students in online classes are also often able to interact with people from an even wider range of cultures and backgrounds than their counterparts on brick-and-mortar campuses,” a report from the foundation notes. “In fact, for many students, the campus experience may be less of an opportunity to get to know people from different cultures and backgrounds than students assume.”

Age, culture, and background can all create resistance to change within any workforce. Having practical experience working across all these potential demographics can be a huge asset for modern managers. The diverse identities of the students enrolled in online courses reflects the diversity of contemporary organizations and teams, making it a powerful training ground for future leaders.

Organizational change is a real aspect of the modern workplace. For those interested in leading an increasingly diverse workforce into the future, Marylhurst University’s Online Master’s in Business Administration program can help students obtain the skills necessary to propel forward.

Sources:

[1] http://www.strategy-business.com/article/00255?gko=9d35b
[2] http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/katzenbach-center#KeyTopicAreas
[3] http://www.heritage.org/education/report/can-online-learning-reproduce-the-full-college-experience