Your team can embrace digital transformation a lot faster – if you do.
If you feel like you can’t go 15 minutes without hearing the phrase “digital transformation,” you’re not alone. Adopting new software, creating gated customer portals, integrating AI – businesses everywhere are pivoting to digital production and delivery methods to avoid getting left behind. In fact, more than two-thirds of companies today have a digital transformation strategy in place (or are working on it). Wicked! We love technology and will happily sing its praises ‘til the cows come home. The only trouble is that not everyone knows how to approach the big shift.
Let’s be real – change is scary.
Humans are creatures of habit, and a lot of us don’t even like trying the daily special at our favorite diner instead of sticking with the trusty BLT (so greasy, so good). Plus, the stats aren’t exactly reassuring. Seventy-three percent of digital transformations fail, and around the same number of organizational change initiatives in general go down the ol’ commode as well. It’s not because the ideas aren’t brilliant or because the technology isn’t up to par. In many cases, the effort begins with great ideas from the minds of very clever people who are trying to solve problems with the best of intentions.
So where do companies fall down? It can be a mix of poor management, inadequate training, lack of employee buy-in and other factors. If you’re thinking of adopting new technology that will affect your operations at large, here are a few change management steps you won’t want to skip.
1. Form a dedicated team.
Leadership is leadership for a reason – they are super smart and experienced and have a knack for making sound decisions. However, when you’re talking about a change of this magnitude, it’s important that people in different roles and with different perspectives have a seat at the table. You want your digital transformation team to have a cross-section of people and probably be a little heavy on the customer experience related roles. But, keep the group small so that you can stay focused and be agile. Depending on your company’s size, 6-10 people is a very manageable amount, and don’t include top leadership. Rather, pick their brains and present options to them for approval.
2. Define and document goals and metrics.
It’s important to spend time figuring out exactly why you’re embarking on a digital transformation journey. What problems are you hoping new tech solutions can solve? Are you trying to up your customer experience? Cut operational costs? What is your purpose and aim? This step is a good reality check to make sure you’re bettering your business and not just chasing the shiniest new gadgets. Make sure you also ask: what will success look like for us on this project? How will we measure that?
3. Initiate company-wide idea sharing.
You know what really hinders employee buy-in (and culture in general)? When employees are never asked what they think or given any ownership in ideas, direction or decisions. So, yes, you have a digital transformation team, but you should also include everyone at certain phases of the project. The initial brainstorming phase is the perfect time to tap the whole team for ideas, and this doesn’t have to happen in a giant, company-wide time-suck of a meeting. You can write questions on a conference room whiteboard that people can answer whenever they have time. Or, you can accomplish this with something as simple as a shared Google sheet.
4. Assign someone the role of change ambassador.
Whatever you do, do not just leave everyone hanging after they gave time and thought to sharing ideas. For one thing nearly 80 percent of people say they left their last job because they didn’t feel appreciated. For another, failure to follow up is just rude. Task someone from your dedicated team with keeping the company informed about your digital transformation progress. No, you don’t need exhaustive communication, and not everyone is going to get a vote here. But provide brief updates and give shout-outs to employees who really helped influence your direction.
5. Make training mandatory, thorough … and fun!
New tech is, well, new. And that means that everyone is going to have to learn how to use it the optimal way if you want optimal results. It’s beyond frustrating when you invest in a robust digital tool and only end up using about 10 percent of its functionality because no one ever set it up correctly. Don’t skimp on the time you allot for training and consider offering additional help and resources. Additionally, getting everyone together for training is the perfect opportunity to hype the new tools, so make your training fun. Can you add a playful contest element? Can you give away “party favors?” Definitely make food a part of the experience.
6. Create a suggestion box (virtual or physical).
The first few months after you launch your new tech, people are going to have opinions – lots of them! Sure, some will be the typical frustrations that accompany change, but listening to your people can also teach you a lot about the effectiveness of the tools and how you should consider tweaking your solution. Encourage people to share what’s working, what can be better and how. Also make sure you set up a system for hearing how your customers’ are reacting, too.
7. Remember that old saying about change.
When we say old, we’re talking Greek philosophy old. Yep, sometime around 500 B.C.E., our good pal Heraclitus said that change is the only constant in life. With that in mind, remember that your digital transformation isn’t “done.” Like … ever. As with any change you make to your business, it represents the best solution for now. It’s important to monitor the effects of your new technology (remember those documented goals and metrics!), but also to keep asking: how can we do better? And: what else could we utilize? And, most importantly: what awesome ideas does my team have?
We’re not doing to lie – no change comes without growing pains. But, if you clarify your goals and commit to a process that values your people and their insight, you’ll be starting from a pretty solid foundation. Of course, we’re always happy to jump in and help if you need us!