How to get and keep staff buy-in during digital transformation

Squiz's John-Paul Syriatowicz offers his advice on how to get staff buy-in throughout your digital transformation journey

In today’s market, most companies understand the importance of creating more responsive and customer-friendly digital experiences.

To achieve this, many companies are starting their digital transformation journey by digitising their processes, promoting mobility, and upgrading web services for customer centricity.

It is essential to have staff buy-in throughout this journey, particularly with long-standing employees who may be resistant to change, to ensure an engaged workforce and smooth transitions to new processes.

Here are three key pieces of advice to businesses looking to gain and keep buy-in for successful digital transformation.

Identify key staff members – starting from the top down

Sometimes you don’t have to look far to find the right people to support your digital transformation vision. IDC recently predicted two-thirds of Global 2000 CEOs will put digital transformation at the centre of their growth and profitability strategies over the next two years.

Yet by 2018, they expect 70 per cent of silo-ed digital transformation initiatives will ultimately fail due to insufficient collaboration, integration, sourcing or project management.

Digital transformation must occur from the top down, with management acting as trailblazers for new processes. Strong, forward-looking and digitally-focused policies with trackable results are essential to demonstrating improvements to company employees.

With a clear direction from above, staff will be more likely to extend their support with confidence.

To avoid failure by silo-ing teams and projects, it is important to empower digital champions who can also help bridge the gaps between departments and demographic groups.

One way to solve this problem is to enlist the assistance of junior staff members, most of whom are digital natives with naturally fresher ways of showing more senior staff how to use new technology.

Creating a buddy system or encouraging one-on-one sessions between juniors and seniors will help management to foster a collaborative working environment centered on the new technology.

Hiring digital experts as senior staff is another strategic move to handle change. They can then share their knowledge company-wide, support juniors on tasks, and mentor senior staff.

Make it simple and fun to learn the basics

With executive management forging a clear direction, they should also commit to a coherent digital vision that can be easily communicated internally.

Along with experts and leaders, a digital office champion should be tasked with driving regular initiatives and updates. This will clarify who to contact with any questions or suggestions, as well as spread confidence among staff.

Digital transformation shouldn’t be daunting to understand or execute. To avoid feelings of confusion or isolation, the changes should be made fun for staff.

Regular workshops and brainstorming sessions, with incentives for meeting digitally-based targets can foster creativity among staff members, and encourage them to express their opinions and feedback on the changes.

Help teams collaborate with confidence

A company shows its strength through working relationships between team members and departments.

Marketing and IT departments, for example, should be collaborating on everything from analytics to CRM systems. Encouraging departments to get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses makes it easier to share knowledge and connect.

Simplifying communication through apps, shared calendars and instant messaging instead of emails can also be great ways to strengthen these relationships.

Setting realistic goals and regular meetings is also essential to driving collaboration. A set structure in a supporting environment will encourage development and nurture new ideas between teams.
The strength of a good and healthy relationship will dictate how digital change plays out.

Read more: Go greater than digital: Digital-first, customer-centric strategy

From identifying digital champions, to enabling effective collaboration, gaining company buy-in isn’t as daunting as many envision. Once these steps are accomplished, the benefits of digital transformation will speak for themselves in ROI, customer satisfaction, and most importantly, the support of your team.

John-Paul Syriatowicz is group CEO of Squiz.

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