How do you, as a technology leader, build momentum for digital transformation when you know you will face tremendous resistance from many corners of your organization?
It’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid and think that once the benefits of your transformation plan are known, everyone will embrace and appreciate the new technologies. But that’s not how people work. And as you probably already know from experience, no matter how much of an improvement the technology will bring, many people will simply not like it.
So, you have to embrace your role as change ambassador and learn how to build relationships with people to implement change effectively. In fact, the people side of change management is probably as critical, if not more critical, for you to manage as the technological side. That is a big ask.
So where do you begin? How do you help your peers, colleagues and partners embrace the changes that are necessary for your organization to survive? Fifty years ago, Paul Lawrence shared his seminal research, in the Harvard Business Review, on why people resisted change at work. He found that “people do not resist technical change as such and that most of the resistance which does occur is unnecessary.”
What people dislike, Lawrence said, is the change in human relationships caused by technical changes. The main premise of Lawrence’s research was that the lack of engagement between the change agents and those affected by change made implementation difficult. And these changes in human relationships were not properly addressed by the change agents.
Digital transformation requires rearranging lots of human relationships and possibly changing some interactions from people-to-people to machine-to-people. I have learned that as you begin to roll out your digital transformation initiatives, it’s helpful to make sure your communications include the people and social side of change.
Here are five steps to follow for digital transformation:
- Outline your transformation vision and include the expected changes to people interactions.
The point of digital transformation is to help people interact more easily and seamlessly to achieve the outcomes they want. You should be able to clearly articulate how your new digital solutions will advance the people experience to new levels.
- Map the people flow the same way you map the workflow of your new digital project.
Understand what human relationships you will be changing. This may require you and your team interviewing colleagues to understand who they interact with regularly and why. There may be key knowledge owners in the people flow that, if removed and/or replaced with someone or with technology, could cause anxiety or uncertainty for their colleagues. Acknowledge the potential gaps these changes could make and come up with solutions to fill them.
- Be honest with key stakeholders on the social change that will occur.
If you try to sell the technical advantages and sugarcoat the social changes, you will not be trusted. There most likely will be resistance and you should be well prepared to address concerns. Your responses should acknowledge the change and the disruption it will cause. Take time to explain why and connect your answers back to the vision and benefits the change is supposed to bring.
- Pilot your systems for people validation.
Put the system in place and gather data on what is happening with the people interactions. Engage local managers and set up focus groups to gain feedback. Don’t get defensive about the feedback you receive — realize how valuable it is in delivering a system that will be embraced and adopted and will ultimately find success.
- Build relationships and trust with face-to-face interactions.
As the technology leader in your company, you have to be visible and accessible during the digital transformation process. To trust you, people need to feel they know you. You can’t know someone only through digital town halls or web conferences. Make the time to be in the room with stakeholders of all levels. They should see the passion you have for the initiatives you are supporting and have the opportunity to address concerns with you directly.
It is exciting to lead and work in technology during this time of digital transformation. As a technology leader, your skills and knowledge are now central to organizational success. To unlock the new potential of the changes you are leading, connect yourself to the people who will make them happen.
Transformations call for a large amount of resources: employees must fundamentally rethink and reshape the business while continuing to keep the lights on in day to day operations. Dynamic provides solutions to ease digital transformation, so your internal IT team can stay focused on innovation and business goals. Contact us today to get started. Call 866-399-1084 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.