According to a new report by Gartner, most digital workplace initiatives will fail to achieve their desired results through 2021, in large part because they ignore the role of culture. Researchers point out that “when initiatives are executed as a series of technology rollouts, employee engagement and addressing the associated cultural change are left behind. Digital workplace success is impossible without such.” To achieve a successful digital transformation, it’s not enough to simply introduce a new digital tool or process; company culture, supported by a clear vision and supportive leaders, must also change. When employees learn how to change their mindsets and behaviors, a culture forms that supports a successful digital transformation. Here are four key factors that can help you achieve a successful digital transformation.
A Clear Vision for Change
Before implementing any kind of change that will impact how employees work and interact, there must be a clear vision. People need to understand why new tools or processes are being introduced, how the change will impact their roles, and what the organization will look like after the change is implemented. Once people see how things will improve as a result of digital transformation, they are less likely to resist or avoid it. In addition, a clear vision does more than explain what’s to come; it can also inspire people to get on board and support the changes that are coming. When people are motivated by a strong vision for digital transformation, they will discuss it with others, ask questions, and commit to supporting it.
Leaders set the tone for employee behavior. If they show lackluster support for digital transformation, employees are likely to do the same. Leaders at every level of the organization can successfully lead change by supporting employees in the following ways:
- Defining expectations so that individuals have clarity about what they need to do differently as the change initiative gets underway.
- Coaching and mentoring employees through times of uncertainty and stress.
- Providing employees with the resources and training to learn new ways of behaving in the digital workplace.
- Optimizing the impact of digital transformation by reinforcing messages, building employee knowledge, and rewarding progress along the way.
A 2018 study by Microsoft found that half of employees are afraid of the changes that digital disruption will bring to their workplace. Frequent communication about the impact and challenges of digital transformation can quell those fears and motivate employees to embrace change with confidence. Frequent, two-way communication throughout the entire digital transformation process ensures that individuals understand the changes that are occurring and what their role is in helping to achieve a positive result. Two-way communication about the company’s digital transformation allows individuals to ask questions, express frustrations, and learn from shared experiences. This can take place one on one, in team meetings, in online discussion forums, and in larger town hall gatherings.
Employee Learning and Development
People can only leverage new digital tools when they have the desire and know-how to do so. Training is a key component of achieving the culture change required for a successful digital transformation. Training teaches individuals how to:
- Develop a mindset that is open to and embraces change.
- Approach new processes with an eye for innovation and efficiency.
- Apply critical thinking and decision-making skills in ways that allow them to leverage digital tools more effectively.
Developing leaders is also a key component of learning and development during a digital transformation. Company leaders require the skills to lead others through change so that new standards and expectations for performance are reinforced throughout the organization on an ongoing basis.
Culture change is a critical ingredient of successful digital transformation, and it can only come about with a clear vision, effective leadership, and opportunities for employee learning and development. Without these important success factors, the introduction of new digital tools and processes is likely to achieve only limited results—or worse, to fail completely. By focusing on people and culture, any organization can make digital transformation a reality.