If you’re considering digital transformation, you probably know it entails significant operational changes. Whether you’re changing your entire business model or certain business processes, these transformational changes are challenging for organizations and their employees.
Many executives and project teams struggle to integrate organizational change management into their projects. Here are five ways you can prepare your organization for change:
5 Ways to Prepare for Change
1. Ensure executive alignment. Most organizations have at least one executive who is not on board with the goals of the project or is working against the project. Your executive team needs to be aligned – the success of all other change management activities depends on it. Executive involvement precedes executive buy-in. Asking executives questions, such as what they would like to achieve with new technology, can help establish buy-in.
2. Facilitate organizational readiness assessments. How can you implement transformational change without understanding your employees and your culture? Conducting an online survey and series of focus groups can give you an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your organizational culture. This insight can identify the root causes of change resistance and help you determine strategies for implementing change.
3. Conduct organizational impact assessments. You can simply inform employees that their jobs will change, or you can explain exactly how they will change. An organizational impact assessment helps you understand the degree of change and nature of change so you can effectively communicate this to employees. Communication should be targeted, personalized and continuous.
4. Customize your training materials to fit your business processes. While most ERP vendors have training materials for their products, the training isn’t customized. When you train employees without considering the nuances unique to your organization and industry, employees may experience confusion, and training won’t be nearly as effective. Training materials should be tailored to your business processes. A training program should cover more than just how to use the ERP system. Employees also need to know what processes and decisions need to happen outside the system.
5. Develop a comprehensive organizational change management plan. Merely focusing on end-user training and basic employee communications will not lead to long-term transformational change. An independent consultant can help you define the change management activities that will enable digital transformation.
How to Communicate With Employees
1. Look for signs of resistance. While employees may appear to embrace change, subtle forms of resistance may still exist. Be on the lookout for signs such as reduced productivity, absenteeism and conflict. When developing a communication plan, you should pay attention to change resistant employees.
2. Develop a communication plan. A clear understanding of stakeholder needs allows you to develop a targeted communication plan outlining key messages for each stakeholder group. The plan should also specify when and by whom information should be communicated.
3. Provide leadership. Executives should provide clear, consistent and repeated communication of project goals, and they should explain how these goals align with the organizational vision. Without this type of communication, employees won’t understand how new technology will help the organization grow, better serve customers and become more efficient. Instead they’ll assume the organization is using technology as a cost-cutting measure and a strategy for eliminating staff.
4. Facilitate two-way communication. When will training occur? When will changes roll out? How can I express my concerns? These are common questions employees have during digital transformation projects. Executives and the project team should hold meetings throughout the project so employees can ask questions and express concerns.
5. Establish a project brand. A brand is a value proposition that encourages loyalty. A brand for a digital transformation project should reinforce the importance of the project. A branding contest is a fun way to engage employees and help them feel a sense of ownership. When communicating with employees, don’t underestimate the power of branding.
6. Create a project portal website. This serves as a central location for employees to find timely project information. Available materials should include implementation plans, upcoming events and training schedules. Smaller organizations sometimes use a bulletin board to disseminate information in lieu of a website. A central location for information encourages collaboration and participation from all stakeholders.
7. Utilize change agents. These are people inside the organization responsible for communicating key messages to end-users. As trusted advisors and super-users of the new technology, they are likely to hear different thoughts, concerns and reactions than executives hear.
Is Organizational Change Management Really Necessary?
Many executives believe organizational change management is a luxury rather than a necessity – even if they’re undergoing a digital transformation that’s radically changing their operational model. Time and resource constraints prompt executives to cut organizational change management from their project budgets in an attempt to complete the project as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, executives that forgo change management typically find their projects require more time and money in the long run as they scramble to increase system usage after the technology is already implemented.
Executives that do believe in organizational change management often struggle to develop an actionable plan. If this describes you, we hope this blog post is a good starting point in preparing your organization for transformational change.