abandonclosediscoverdisruptionfacebookgoogle-plus instagram linkedinmap-markerphonepinterestsearchtwittervimeo-squareyoutube email

How to make sure your digital transformation goes smoothly

How can you keep up with new technologies, introduce new tools and processes, and keep, in some cases, thousands of employees satisfied and minimise resistance? In this article we will go through a few things you can do to make the digital transformation process as painless as possible and the final outcome a success.

Recently we went through an office renovation process and after just a few weeks of dusty desks, slippery floors and deafening power tools, we ended up with a beautifully designed, shiny new office.

The new space is welcoming, bright and fully equipped with everything we need. It offers a lot of flexible work spaces for individuals to choose from and is far better than our old base. However, I couldn’t help noticing people commenting on bits they didn’t like or new ways of working they were not comfortable with. Bear in mind these were not extreme, but it made me think about change in the workplace.

We all know humans are creatures of habit and we like doing things in a way we are used to and comfortable with. So, if a simple office renovation can cause distress for a relatively small group of people, how would a large digital transformation and/or introducing modern tools and ways of working affect large organisations and their employees?

How can you keep up with new technologies, introduce new tools and processes, and keep, in some cases, thousands of employees satisfied and minimise resistance?

In the past 10 years I’ve worked on many internal projects for a variety of different clients; from simple engagement campaigns for small companies to large intranet projects for multinationals serving content to thousands of people across the world.

In my experience one thing is very clear. No matter how well your intentions are and how well you communicate the changes to your employees, there will always be resistance and if not managed well, you could end up with bubbles or groups of people who can put your plans and the future of your organisation in jeopardy and stop progress in its tracks.

There is no need to worry though. Many organisations have gone through this process and managed to make it a success with high levels of user engagement and employee satisfaction.

In this article we will go through a few things you can do to make the process as painless as possible and the final outcome a success.

In my experience one thing is very clear. No matter how well your intentions are and how well you communicate the changes to your employees, there will always be resistance and if not managed well, you could end up with bubbles or groups of people who can put your plans and the future of your organisation in jeopardy and stop progress in its tracks.

Clarity is key

Be clear on what you’re trying to achieve, the reasons why things are changing and how these changes will benefit your employees. People get nervous when there are uncertainties and they definitely don’t like surprises. Communication and engagement are key and it’s better to put things on people’s radar and make them aware of changes happening as early as possible to lessen any resistance.

Identifying and catering for different people involved in the change

There are always different audiences involved in any transformation, who sit at different levels in the hierarchy of an organisation. It’s key to identify them, engage them appropriately, clarify their responsibilities and give them ownership.

Typically, these layers are:

The leaders

These guys need to be clear on exactly what the strategy is and the reasons for change. They need to be aligned on the outcomes to make everyone’s life easier and have no surprises further down the line.

The transformation or project team

These are the guys responsible for delivering the different workstreams.

The ambassadors

These guys are the influencers, admired or respected by others. They can relate to others and have the ability to convince them. They can be people within the organisation itself. For example, middle management, but we have also used outside influencers in the past to help rally the masses and promote change.

In a way these guys are one of the key parts of making sure people embrace change, so make sure you choose wisely.

The colleagues

These are the guys who will be affected the most by the changes. They typically need a lot of information and reassurance. Any product or piece of communication developed has to put this group at the heart of it. It’s crucial to understand the different groups of people and disciplines and the characteristics of each within your organisation. The personalities involved, the way they work, their location, their environment they work in, etc. and identify how new tools and processes will affect them and what they will need going forward.

Creating personas, carrying out research and conducting interviews are some ways of getting under the skin of different groups of people to identify their needs. This process is important not just in identifying user needs but also giving people a sense of involvement and ownership.

However, don’t be scared to change things drastically when needed. People might not be comfortable with change or might not even know what they need going forward. As I said earlier we are creatures of habit and like Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Basically, you need to innovate to make progress and you might make a few people unhappy during the process.

Your employees need to be aware of changes not just before and during the process but will also require help post-launch with things like training and guidance on new tools and new ways of working. This can be tough sometimes. Organisations need to be more innovative with the ways they communicate with their employees.

Provide updates. Your employees need to be aware of changes not just before and during the process but will also require help post-launch with things like training and guidance on new tools and new ways of working. This can be tough sometimes. Organisations need to be more innovative with the ways they communicate with their employees. It’s no longer enough to send out an email or slap a poster on the wall. People are busy with lots of things to do in their daily lives. To make sure a piece of communication lands, you need to look further and create engaging tools to disrupt and engage. We’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to create work for our clients, such as RBS and HSBC, which gets the attention of employees and gets them talking and engaged. But whatever you do, make sure you do it with clarity and users in mind. Make it clear what exactly is expected from them.

Practise what you preach

It’s really important that higher level employees embrace the change and demonstrate that they are. If you’ve introduced a new tool, make sure your leaders use it. If you have introduced flexible working, make sure people feel free to become flexible workers without being penalised for it. Finally, keep consistent, work on convincing the resistors and before you know it you will have a place where people are happy and settled in their new ways of working, the same way we are settling in our new office.

You might also like: