In order to really see success in your digital transformation efforts, change management needs to be included. Here are our top five best practices to include in your change management strategy.
“The only constant in life is change” – Heraclitus
Whether it’s a slight change in the weather, our schedules or an expected change of seasons; we all face change everyday. It affects all of us, although how each individual deals with change differs. However, as the only constant in life, the only thing that we can guarantee will happen, it’s important that we have strategies and coping mechanisms in place in order to ease the (sometimes) burden of change.
The same can be said about change in business. Just like you’d have plans in place for change in your personal life, having a clear, cohesive plan for dealing with change in the workforce is just as important. While it was already a key strategic initiative for many businesses pre-covid, digital transformation has taken on a heightened level of importance in the time during and post the covid-19 pandemic.
According to research conducted by McKinsey, the rate at which companies’ have adopted digital technologies has been accelerated by three to seven years in the space of months. Some companies have even touted that what was once viewed as best-in-class speed for most businesses just two years ago is now slower than average.
However, what exactly does this mean for businesses in 2022 and beyond? Will undertaking operational digital transformations be economically viable in the years to come? Read on to find out…
What is digital transformation?
Transcending traditional roles such as sales, marketing, procurement and customer service, digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new (or update/change existing) business processes in order to meet changing business demands. Essentially, digital transformation begins and ends with your customers – how you think about and engage with them. It’s a reimagining of business in the digital age.
Why digital mindset is key for digital transformation
While digital technologies do provide users and organisations with an increase in efficiency and a more intimate customer-centric experience, if people within the business are lacking the right mindset for change, digital transformation may result in some tricky situations.
There may be concerns from staff about being ‘digitally transformed’ out of their roles, as manual processes become automated. Therefore, how you communicate change with your organisation really is a make or break scenario. In essence, the shaping of your workplace culture and rallying of all persons in your business to support digital transformation stems from individuals’ mindsets.
While from the outset, this may seem like a daunting task, with the correct planning and strategies in place, navigating your business through changes such as digital transformation can be a prime opportunity for growth (both individually and collectively). Below, we’ve listed five lessons in change management that have helped us and many of our clients through successful digital transformations.
5 Change management tips for business owners
Having strategies in place for change management for any change initiative in a business is critical to success. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a specific, targeted transition or a significant change across the organisation, having a clear, cohesive plan is an absolute necessity. Here are our top five best practices to include in your change management strategy:
1. Set expectations and define success
While you can’t control or tell your employees how to feel, you can frequently communicate your vision for your company as a dynamic and evolving organisation.
Talking about change in an open and candid manner is one of the most powerful things you can do when it comes to helping your company embrace change. By communicating openly and setting the standard for how success will be measured, everyone will be on the same page and those that may feel the brunt of the changes can rest assured knowing that they aren’t in danger.
2. Understand and assess how the change will impact each individual
It doesn’t matter whether the change is positive or negative, it’s only natural that each individual within the organisation will wonder how it will affect them. Therefore, it’s important to assess the size of the change in question, the number of people it would affect and how it would be implemented.
Additionally, as a leader, you need to accept that there will be dips in productivity as individuals and teams react and adapt to change – as is normal whenever a major development is introduced. Bearing this in mind, when addressing the change with those in your organisation, try to look at the change from the perspective of each individual and allow time for them to process their reactions.
3. Highlight the risks
While it may seem like a step in the wrong direction, highlighting the risks involved is a way for you to actively seek obvious points of resistance. Even if the solution would provide employees with countless improvements to problems, there is always going to be some resistance to change. Moving into the unknown is scary. Therefore, it’s important to appoint change management teams and/or sponsors to help in addressing resistance and mitigating it.
4. Embrace the change cycle
When it comes to change management, there’s no (unfortunately) one-size-fits-all solution, or predictable timeline as to when everyone within the organisation will be on board. Each person will process the change at their own pace through what we call the ‘change cycle’. While it differs for everyone, generally this process involves feelings of loss, followed by doubt, discomfort, discovery, understanding and finally, integration.
After you’ve announced the upcoming change/s, you can expect for people to move through the cycle within a matter of hours, or some even months. However, what you can do to make the process easier for everyone, is to know about each member of your team and (in due time) reach out personally to anyone who may appear to be stuck in the stages of doubt and/or discomfort.
Create a space where they can feel safe to voice their concerns and ask questions. Once you’ve understood their perspective, you can then try to help them progress through the change cycle.
5. Recognise that change is normal
From technology and consumer preferences to markets and environmental conditions, there’s no denying that today’s world moved rapidly. For businesses, this means that there is not only a need to transform operations to keep pace with consumers, but also, they need to anticipate change and be ready for it when it does occur.
A good practice that we like to utilise when sharing information on change with the wider organisation is the fact that by the time the change is announced, we’ve already spent a considerable amount of time thinking about it, working through the details and processing all of the ramifications. It’s important to realise that your employees are going to have the exact same questions you’ve been working through.
As a leader, your best approach when strategizing change is to create a culture that embraces it. Respect that everyone has a right to their own reactions, communicate the information with empathy and give people time to work through the change cycle at their own pace.
Making change management part of your digital transformation
When crafting your plan for digital transformation, be sure to include room for agility and flexibility for growth. For example, you may choose to start small with automation and digitization in a single area of business. Choosing to adopt a more long-term approach and positioning small implementations as the foundational level for your larger digital transformation efforts, will make getting employee buy-in all the more easier.
In order to really see success in your digital transformation efforts, change management needs to be included. By following the best practices that we’ve outlined above, and by being proactive in a collaborative approach, you can ensure that your business is ready to capitalise on the benefits of a digital transformation well into the future.
At Sourceit we recognise the challenges associated with digital transformation, so we provide support to all new clients during your digital transformation journey. We act as your partner in the critical change management process, we’ll help your organisation to choose the right partner to work with enabling you to deliver real savings with every transaction. Interested in knowing more?
Head to our website and check out how you can reduce marketing procurement costs by over 14% and determine your ROI on your sourceit investment, or drop me an email at email@example.com and I’ll put you in touch with a local Sourceit Partner to help you get started on your digital transformation journey.