How To Deal When Your Team Resists Digital Transformation
The looks on their faces said it all. Downcast eyes. Furrowed brows. Tight lips. The editorial team at SpeakYourMind magazine was unimpressed, to say the least.
The reason for their frowns? News from the top that the magazine was moving to complete digitisation. SpeakYourMind magazine was a traditional print magazine publisher, with over 60% of the workforce having worked solely with printed paper throughout their careers
This was the way they had worked for years, and they weren’t interested in changing it. The CTO knew there would be resistance. So, he enlisted the help of Change Manager Jerina Hardy, specialising in Digital Transformation, to bring his team onboard, get them trained up and moved over to the new system, and able to work with agility in time for an office move six months down the line.
Jerina went in and did what she does best -- help teams adjust to digital transformation cases just like this one. Six months later, the magazine’s entire editorial team was not only comfortably using GSuites efficiently and effectively -- but the team members were even enjoying the new fully digitised process.
Working with new technologies is one of the challenges faced by customer service teams today. The good news is, we can learn from another industry, where digitisation hit early and initiated a massive change process -- the publishing industry.
What is Jerina’s secret to success? We sat down with Jerina to get the full run-down of her digital transformation change management process.
Jerina’s approach to digital transformation amongst teams
“Nobody likes change -- the best leaders embrace it and are always looking for ways of being innovative in order to be as efficient as possible as a business. However, with any transformation programmes, comes uncertainty and can, therefore, harbour resistance.
It’s important to identify the challenges to change and take them on the journey with you. New technology can easily be misunderstood and without putting the time into harnessing your audience, true engagement will prove difficult.
1. Get a project team together
Find representatives from across the business involved in the project. Take your team on the journey -- make them feel part of the decision.
Where possible, set up a committee to help you with your problem. Get them to identify the pitfalls of your current tool and the effect it has on the team’s output.
Then, get them involved in the pitches from suppliers who provide better systems. This will quickly turn them into advocates for change, that you can use to help you roll out the new system.
2. Get your leaders on board
Make sure your leaders can lead from the front. Usually, showing them the value to the bottom line will help you with this, but my experience is that often leaders can themselves be fearful of change and the effect it will have on their business.
Spend the time with them to make sure they understand the why and the how, and then get them trained up on the new system. If they love it, they will feel empowered to take their teams with them.
3. Identify your advocates
Who is going to fly the flag for your change management piece? Use your advocates to be your voice amongst their teams.
4. Identify your ‘terrorists’
Who is going to dislike this change? Find out what percentage of your workforce this represents, and spend time to understand their concerns.
Keep in mind that you will never get 100% advocacy for launch - and that’s ok! If you get 80% onboard, that’s a win and the rest will follow at their own pace.
5. Roll-out the change in manageable steps
Give yourself time to do this step by step. Don’t try to get everyone up and running at the same time. Consider people’s workloads, busy times of year and deadlines, and plan for each team.
6. Train, train, train!
Make sure you don’t skimp on training -- new technology needs to be understood before it can be useful. Make this your number one investment, both monetarily but also in time. Don’t expect everyone to want to be trained up! Give them several opportunities to take the time to get to know the new tech.
...but it doesn’t end there. Jerina stresses the importance of getting things right, down to every detail, from a communications perspective as well. Here are her tips:
Plan, plan plan!
Aim for the best outcome, but be prepared for the worst. Make sure you anticipate questions from your business, suppliers and any other audience that will be affected.
What’s in it for me?
Put ‘what’s in it for me?’ at the root of everything you say. Identify your audiences and anticipate what their resistance or support might be. Tailor your message to that.
Take the time to listen to feedback, whether you disagree or think it’s just ‘noise’. There is always learning in feedback from users or future users.
One final word on change management for digital transformation from Jerina:
“Put trust and honesty at the heart of everything you do. Make sure you stay authentic to your business rationale for the change programme and talk about it openly.
Even if some of the reality is not very ‘PR’ -- no one wants to hear that you’re rolling out a new system so that you can reduce your overheads. But accept that honesty will drive the advocacy of those who you will need to keep working for you, so be real with them, they will respect you for it.”
Jerina Hardy is a Communications Guru with many years of the UK and international experience managing the communications functions in fast-paced organisations undergoing significant transformation. Jerina has worked with businesses across a range of sectors, including Dennis Publishing, Costa Coffee and Age UK. Jerina is an expert in Communications & PR Strategy, Reputation Management, Crisis Communications and Change Management.
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