We’ve been talking about digital transformation (DX) a lot lately, and for good reason. The benefits, or rather, the absolute necessity, of DX is likely clear to business leaders, which we talked about in our recent blog post Digital Transformation is A Stepping Stone to Innovation.
We’ve also written about how to implement in the post Transformation Projects: How to Go From Idea to Execution.
We’ve even discussed how to get started in Putting It All Together—Getting Started With Digital Transformation.
The one element of DX that we haven’t written about in depth is the importance of having your employees on board. And that changes today with this post.
All good business leaders know that a company is only as strong as its staff. If employees buck management, all the technology and processes in the world won’t save the business. With the fast pace of technology and innovation that characterizes business today, the standard for a quality staff is less about ‘falling in line’ and more about knowing what’s right and acting according.
In that sense, it’s easy to see why employees who embrace DX will have more tools to be innovative or efficient. How employees react to DX has a huge impact on getting the transformation right.
But, there is a human element involved that has nothing to do with rationality—humans are emotional beings, after all. The employees, all of which will likely be using new digital tools on a daily basis, have to learn and adapt to completely different workflows and practices. Some are naturally going to be reluctant to champion this type of change, and other may even outright resist.
Why though? It should be obvious why the company needs to embrace digital transformation.
Most DX initiatives have a top-down approach; meaning 99% of the time, employees aren’t asking the leadership team for an extra project. Go figure. Furthermore, the employees, who didn’t make the decision, will likely be the people who need to change the most, learn new tools, create new processes, etc.
And if employees anticipate, either correctly or not, that digital transformation will create more (or more difficult) work for them, their reluctance could be especially trouble.
If you really want to get to the root of why employees might resist participating in a large corporate project like DX, put yourselves in their shoes and ask yourself:
Before you start writing a company memo about all the great things DX will do for the organization, check out a few of these tips.
Tips For Getting Employee Buy In
“Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.” – Dale Carnegie
OK, so we understand why employees aren’t super jazzed about digital transformation, or more specifically, how it will affect them. How can we turn that around?
Research from the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85% of financial success is due to an individual’s personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Only 15% is due to technical knowledge. Extrapolate that line of thinking into managing your transformation project while considering how to present some of the following advice.
Every organization is different and will require a unique approach, so we’ve listed seven different tactics you can pick and choose from to try and win support for your DX project.
1. Open Communication
According to Digital Marketing Institute, companies where senior executives communicate with employees across all levels of the organization are 8x more likely to achieve transformation success compared to those who don’t.
Think seriously about some sort of open door policy and proactive messaging from the executive team.
2. Empower Employees
The leadership and managers already know their role in a transformation, but what about the rank and file employees? Make sure each employee knows how her work contributes to the overall success of the project.
3. Invest in “Employee Experience Design”
Many companies spend a lot of time, energy and money creating journey maps, buyer personas, and user research that are customer facing—why not develop the same approach for employees? Knowing the path to their end goal may help mitigate the ups and downs of their own experience with digital transformation.
4. Be Responsive About Concerns
Amidst all of the great things that are designed to happen as a result of DX, there are bound to be some skeptics out there. They may voice their concerns right in the beginning, or wait until you’re several weeks into a major project. Either way, make sure that you’re actively monitoring your ‘suggestion box’ and responding to concerns.
5. Tailor Your Strategy Presentation to Each Audience
What appeals to the engineering team about DX may not provide the same draw to your sales team. Shocker, we know! In addition to providing a means to communicate with everyone involved in the transformation, creating unique presentations for every team showcasing the benefits they actually care about goes a long way to show that you’ve carefully considered how this project will affect people at the individual or team level.
6. Strive for Accountability and Transparency
One of the worst feelings at work is feeling out of the loop. Keep every team up to date with the progress, wins, and even challenges of the DX project as a whole. Consider assigning a main point of contact for each group and encourage proactive broadcasting of pertinent info to cut down on repetition and gossip. Don’t let lack of communication be the cause of lack of progress on your transformation project.
7. Back Up Your Strategy with Statistics
DX is no longer an emerging conversation in the business world—basically every major trade publication has written about the implications of digitalization in their industry, and also the results of companies who have successfully implemented. When you’re presenting your own plan for DX, feel free to use the research as proof of why you’re doing the project.
Additionally, don’t forget to include your own metrics—and which way they should go after implementation—so people can get a sense of the black and white results you plan to attain.
All the tech and strategy in the world won’t help you execute a successful digital transformation. But on the other side of the coin, the support and contributions of your staff have the potential to be the greatest asset to your DX project. We hope that some of the strategies and tactics laid out in this post help you gain the support you need.