If you’ve been in a position of leadership for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard the phrase “change management.” Change management has the following definitions:
- the management of change and development within a business or similar organization.
- the controlled identification and implementation of required changes within a computer system.
There is nothing wrong with these definitions except in the context of an organization going through a digital transformation, they simply don’t fully explain the necessary steps to success. While managing any organizational change can be an uphill battle, digital transformation can feel like trying to climb Everest in flip flops. So, no matter the change you are trying to implement as the leader, you must be fully engaged and, dare we say, evangelical about the need for change and the process to get there. That means the days of “do as I say, not as I do” leadership are over. The mentality for a modern workforce must be more, “this what we need to do, and I’m going to work alongside you to figure it out together.”
Still, words won’t make the change happen or last. Here are four change management strategies leaders must do before and during a digital transformation (or any organizational change) to make it successful.
Recognize possible areas of tension
In any major organizational change, you won’t make everyone happy. Honestly, you might make some people on your team downright angry. You’ll hear things like, “I’ve always done it this way and it works for me,” or, “if it’s not broke, why fix it?”
There are no easy or standard answers for these objections, but you can overcome many kneejerk or emotional reactions with solid data. Be ready to explain “why” and “how” the change will improve the work of those affected, not just the company’s bottom line or other Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). And be ready to actively listen to concerns and incorporate that feedback into your final plan.
Also, don’t expect a “one and done” scenario. You’ll have to consistently engage with the team and other key stakeholders about the reasons and benefits for the change throughout the process to ensure continued commitment. That means committing to on-going, data-centric communications, active listening, and even a willingness to pivot mid-process if necessary.
Distribute responsibility and accountability
The responsibility for the change effort doesn’t (and shouldn’t) end with the Executive Team, the top 100 directors, or the top 1,000 managers. It must involve people from all levels of the organization. While the change leader can signal that enterprise-wide transformation will be a collective effort, they must also put it into practice by regularly including and listening to stakeholders from a broad spectrum of perspectives, including customers. This ensures accountability and ownership are distributed throughout the organization and that the final results are a team effort and not just an executive mandate.
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Commit to the financial investment
Beyond all the planning, communication, and mobilization efforts―leaders need to provide the necessary resources the organization needs to successfully implement the change. This might include elements such as capital budgeting, existing resource allocation, and building new talent capabilities.
In the case of digital transformation, that could mean buying new enterprise software, building ad hoc teams to champion aspects of the project, or even hiring a new C-level executive to lead the technical aspects of the change or to help understand and advocate for the customer and how the change will affect them.
Emphasize continuous improvement
Every dynamic organization changes over time. Your organization will be different once your transformation occurs and it will keep evolving or it will die. To ensure that your organization survives, a culture of continuous improvement must be established. That improvement could be evolving your processes and technologies as the needs of your team and your customers change. It could also include encouraging your team to find new ways to grow their experience base through on-going education or suggesting incremental improvements in their work areas. Creating a culture where people feel empowered to grow but also heard, organically breeds a culture of innovation that helps minimize resistance to change in the future.
Remember, digital transformation done right is a journey that never ends but it ultimately starts with you. While the projects can often get bogged down in red tape, antiquated processes, silos, competing initiatives, unprepared cultures, and unanticipated challenges, digital transformation champions who leverage our advice will be able to mitigate risks, avoid roadblocks, and successfully transform their organizations.
Knowing all this, you may still feel like you need assistance with managing your digital transformation project. That’s where we come in. VALiNTRY360 is ready to assist you with digital transformations from initial evaluation through implementation and managed services. Contact us today to schedule your risk-free, complimentary assessment today!