Inclusive Digital Transformation: Invite Your Employees to Dance
Global spending on hardware, software, and services to support digital growth is expected to eclipse $2 trillion by 2021, according to Capgemini. These technology investments demonstrate an unwavering commitment to digitally transform. But the technology element is just one piece of this very complex digital transformation puzzle. Too often, the human element gets ignored in the digital transformation design process. When you neglect your users in favor of your technology, that’s when you hit a wall. Only 36% of employees say there are possibilities for everyone in their company to take part in the conversation around digital initiatives, Capgemini found. Unsurprisingly, 84% of digital transformation efforts fail. Unless you ask for employees’ input and actually use it, you’ll never gain their support. If you want your digital initiative to make a meaningful impact, you can’t just invite your employees to the party. You have to ask them to dance.
3 consequences of leaving your employees outThe consequences of excluding your employees from the digital transformation conversation are broad. Here are three.
1. You will be unable to create a digital cultureThe architects of digital transformation face a much more nuanced, complex challenge than simply leading a software implementation. Without addressing the human factor in digital initiatives, it will be impossible to drive the cultural shifts required to support your digital transformation. A digital culture is fundamental to successful digital transformation. A digital culture is one that embraces technology, makes decisions based on data, encourages innovation, and adapts to change. Unless you give employees a meaningful role in digital transformation, they’ll see no reason to break from the status quo. When 64% of your workforce thinks their ideas and feedback will be ignored, they won’t even bother. They won’t share their ideas, they won’t embrace an adaptable change mindset, and they will reject new technology in favor of familiar systems.
2. You’ll incite resistanceAside from having the opportunity to express their ideas or needs, active communication between employees and company leaders on digital transformation helps clarify the strategic aspects of the initiative, and why it’s important. If you simply introduce a change and present it as another corporate initiative, you create the impression of being detached from the realities of employees’ everyday work and therefore appear not credible. The result is resistance to change. While it probably won’t look like all-out mutiny, refusal to adopt new digital tools or amend processes is likely. Avoiding resistance to change requires two main things: Employees understand the business case for change from a strategic point of view, and more importantly, they understand how the proposed change will benefit them personally. If either of these is unclear, fear that the change will negatively impact their efficiency, productivity, and overall performance will put them on the defense.
3. You will miss the opportunity to fill talent and skills gapsGiving your employees a seat at the table is mutually beneficial. It not only allows them to feel a sense of ownership over important organizational changes, but it gives you candid insight into where employees struggle, and where new technology can make a meaningful impact. No one knows better than your employees which aspects of the workflow, software platforms, or processes impede productivity and impair their performance. They are also the most aware of their own needs. Perhaps they feel the software onboarding is ineffective. Maybe a critical process has too many unnecessary steps. It’s possible they feel their personal digital skills need a boost. By inviting employee input, you gain a look into the front lines of everyday business. You have the chance to smooth friction, fulfill needs, and pave the way to digital adoption. But so far, most leaders aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity. According to Capgemini, only 40% of leaders actively promote digital skills learning and development for employees and just 38% have a formal program in place to digitally reskill employees through training and mentoring. As a result, the gap between employees’ perceived needs and their actual needs widens. You invest in high-potential digital tools with no potential to successfully adopt them.
Strive for collaboration, not consensusIn the digital era, creating an infrastructure that enables and facilitates change is far more important than maintaining outdated hierarchies. You don’t need more distance between the leadership and your employees. You need transparency, communication, and collaboration. Work for them, and they’ll work for you. It’s not consensus you should aim for. Inviting your employees to take part in the digital transformation conversation isn’t about giving them the final decision-making power. It’s about understanding their needs and making decisions that reflect them. When your employees support your digital transformation plan, they’ll take a more active role in actualizing it. When they feel their feedback will be taken seriously, they will provide more meaningful insights. No one wants to come to the party just to stand against the wall. Invite them to dance, and experience successful change.
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