Transformation in business it taking place every day. Organizations are constantly evolving in order to meet increasing customer expectations. The scale of change can range from smaller transformation initiatives such as the implementation of a new system or process, to much larger transformations such as mergers and acquisitions that will require a significant cultural shift.
What is abundantly clear however, is the impact that employee engagement and morale can have on the success or failure of change. 84% of digital transformations are failing*, 92% of these are due to people related issues. Not to mention over 70% of the workforce are disengaged. This combination should be a major concern for business leaders as it represents a real risk when trying to lead the business into the future.
New tools, processes or operating models are not silver bullets. You can spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, on implementing new technologies and processes- but if no one knows what it is, what it means for them and their daily jobs and what the benefits are- they simply wont adopt it. Your people are the instruments of change and you need to engage them first before you do anything else.
Here are some tried and tested steps that will help you to establish employee engagement and buy-in around transformation:
No big surprises
Although big transformation decisions will typically be made in the privacy of a board room, make sure you don't just “announce” major transformation one day when no one expects it. During the consideration stage, get the relevant teams and business areas involved by holding focus groups and asking stakeholder opinions on how things can be improved.
Lead from the top
If senior leadership aren’t bought into this, then how can you expect employees to be? Leaders need to lead by example and ensure that they are invested in the transformation. Otherwise their teams will just begin to lose interest. A great way to do this would be through Executive immersive simulations, which allows all the leaders to experience the “future state” and share one collective vision which they can then communicate down.
This is massively important and not rocket science, yet you would be surprised at the amount of organizations that jump into change programs that nobody knows anything about. People need to be aware of the change going on, what it means for them and their teams and why its happening in the first place. Don't just communicate at the start and never again, ensure you are consistently communicating and taking your people on the transformation journey with you. Make your communications stand out as well. Blanket emails and “townhall” meetings don't really cut it anymore. Try to make the complex simple by incorporating eye catching, highly visual, engaging, bitesize communications through both offline and digital channels that people can easily digest and understand.
Create some excitement
Most people are disengaged. Combat this by create some buzz and excitement around the transformation. Let people know what it means for them. Create a sense of anticipation. What works fantastically well is incorporating “teaser campaigns” which communicate the change thats coming and creates a send on anticipation.
Get People Involved
Make sure you are getting your people involved in the change at all stages. The more involved people feel, the more invested they are in trying to ensure the success of change programs. Invite people to collaborate and provide feedback. Experiential learning programs is a powerful way to get people involved, enhance communication and break down silos. It also allows people to develop a shared understanding of the benefits of your change program. It also helps to empower people to make improvement suggestions and allows them to transfer knowledge into their every day jobs.
There are many other ways the organizations can increase employee engagement during transformation. In essence, it’s about communicating consistently (but be careful not to information overload) and allowing your people to be taken on the journey.Doing this (and doing it well) can make significantly decrease the chance of resistance and increase engagement to drive success.