Change is rarely easy. However, as culture shifts and technology continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, agility has become a prerequisite for survival. In today’s competitive environment, failure to evolve in the face of change will see businesses fall out of favour with their modern customer-base.
Digital transformation may be a buzzword in the business community, but it’s the upheaval of outdated systems, processes, tools and techniques that will allow an organisation to thrive in the future. Of course, successful transformation takes more than a decision to change. The path ahead is laden with pitfalls: all it takes is a breakdown of communication for a digital transformation project to go awry and the business to suffer rather than prosper from the results.
As well as a solid strategy, therefore, senior management must ensure staff are actively engaged and invested in the project every step of the way. Technology may be the solution, but true digital transformation hinges on behavioural change and buy-in from all corners of the business.
Create and communicate a vision for success
Fear of change is an obvious hindrance to success. Employees at every level can become uncomfortable at the thought of altering established routines and learning to integrate new technology into every aspect of their work. Before a company can embark on a transformational IT project, leaders must prepare employees for the tidal wave of change that will sweep through the organisation.
While it may be tempting to sit back and wait for the results to speak for themselves, communicating your shared vision for the company that has been created by senior management and stakeholders is just as important as devising a strategy for change. Employees are the backbone of your organisation; they must not only understand the reason for transformation but be involved with the creation of a shared vision from the beginning. By doing this, they are more likely to be onboard, demonstrate their support and passion for the upcoming project and be eager to play a role in the implementation.
Leaders of the most successful organisations treat their employees as ambassadors for change – however, for the workforce to be fully invested in the strategy, management must win the argument in the first instance by communicating the value of new technology-led solutions.
It isn’t enough to present the future success of the firm on a whole: if leaders want to see investment from their staff, they must demonstrate how digital transformation will enhance efficiency in their workflow and effectively facilitate their lives.
Empower your employees from an early stage
The point of digital transformation is to breathe new life into the business using technology to become more agile and responsive. Naturally, an overhaul of this scale will have cultural repercussions throughout the organisation; staff will need to learn new skills and the company structure may look very different upon completion.
Transparency is fundamental in keeping your staff on side and involving them in the planning stage will likely teach you a lot about which areas of the business demand innovation. No employee should ever feel that digital transformation is an unwelcome change being forced upon them, but they need to view it as an opportunity to improve the way they work and secure the future of the company.
Instead of asking their opinion in a post-project survey, empower your employees by encouraging them to be upfront on which practical changes they would like to see, as your first step. After all, it is they who will have the most hands-on relationship with the technology in question and who will inevitably be adopting the agile way of working.
The communication goes further than that, though. It needs to be at the heart of your transformation, and feature at every single stage of the process. Your mantra should be, ‘Communicate, discuss, communicate, agree, communicate, action, communicate, review.’
What’s more, involving your employees before the project begins will reassure them that their input and opinion are of critical importance. In turn, engagement levels will rise as employees sense their contribution is valued by senior staff.
Learn to work together
One of the key advantages that comes with digital transformation is the ability to overcome the silos that separate departments and prevent your staff from easily collaborating with each other. By giving your employees the tools to stay connected and easily make information available to any team that needs it you can encourage a culture of collaboration that breaks down not just departmental barriers but also the obstacles that come with age, seniority, and culture.
With full employee engagement, it becomes easier to think ‘like a start-up’ and for everyone to work together to solve problems as they arise. It no longer matters if they are in the same department, the same building or even on the same continent.
While the use of technology is central to digital transformation ultimately the concept of transformation is much more about evolving your company structures and empowering your employees so that they can all play an effective part in your long-term business success.
OJO Solutions provide independent consultancy to organisations large and small. To find out how we could help you with digital transformation, and what it could do for your business, contact us or call 01225 220155.