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5 February 2013

Business

Digital Change Management in the workplace

Managing change in the workplace is a constant for all leaders that evolves with time as new technologies and methods are introduced into industry. Today, to remain relevant as a business, it’s important to regularly define and evaluate your way of operating and continuously review how effective your offerings are and what impact they have on your customers.

The internet has been driving change since the early 1990s and with an ever evolving landscape, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to manage the switchover to digital, especially businesses with a traditional way of operating.

As a leader in change, it’s important that you understand how building and driving digital growth in your workplace through refining its plans and operations can ultimately affect your future growth, customer base, business security and revenue margins.

In knowing the benefits of digital change, the ultimate question is “how do you manage it?”

Our 4 point checklist will outline key elements that will help you deliver and manage a digital change throughout your business; be it big or small.

  • Acquire the right people with the right knowledge
  • Have clear goals and how to achieve them
  • Carpe diem
  • Get employee buy in
  • Plan for tomorrow, then plan some more

Acquire the right people with the right knowledge

Being in a position of responsibility doesn’t mean you have to know about everything. As mentioned earlier, the digital arena is relatively new to many organisations and business types. So understanding how to make a change, improve a service or incorporate a process isn’t going to be common knowledge.

To find the right people, there are 2 main ways this can be achieved;

    1. Hire new staff with the knowledge and knowhow to make your vision of change a reality. Although this adds to your overheads, having a specialist can greatly benefit your organisation because you’ve brought the talent in-house.

  1. Hire a Digital Agency that can perform the work for you. Being the cheaper alternative, this is often a better choice because it offers you flexibility in your budget and complete expertise from the digital agency.

Have clear goals and how to achieve them

Many change leaders are exactly that because they know where they’re going, where they want to be and how to get there. Set clear goals, KPIs and targets but remember to make them realistic and achievable.

There have been too many cases where targets and KPIs have been missed simply because the expectations were too high to start with. Baby steps don’t hinder performance, therefore start off small and gradually introduce higher targets. Change comes about through trial and error and not everything that works for one organisation will always work for another from the start.

Carpe diem!

'Carpe diem' translated from the Latin literally means 'seize the day'.

Think about it, how many times have you thought about doing something but didn’t know where to start? Gradually, the task falls to the bottom of your pile and then forgotten about.

Use this phrase as your motto and you’ll find you have a starting point. Look at the task pragmatically; what do you want to achieve, what do you need, how can you get it, who can help you and what method is going to work best for you?

If you can answer these questions you have a solid start, if you can’t then you need to seize this opportunity and find out. Leaving things till later only builds your workload and leaves you feeling overwhelmed with tasks.

Get employee buy in

It’s probably one of the most important aspects of leadership - do you employees believe in you, your task and the way you’re going to achieve it?

Employee buy in is a fundamental aspect of successful change. By explaining the benefits and delivering the information your peers and subordinates need, you can effectively prepare them for a digital change.

Traditional workforces may find this type of change the most difficult to adjust to, so it’s important to involve them from the beginning. Often it’s a good idea to put together your own panel of employees to bring questions and requests to the table. This panel can form a team of employee ambassadors helping you deliver your message and vision across the workforce.

By showing that each individual’s feelings and input is highly valued, you enable a unified approach where all opinions are taken into consideration for the better.

Remember to explain what the changes are for, how they affect employees and what benefits they will bring to each department and overall to your organisation. Employee buy in is crucial for success, employing these techniques will help you reduce resistance and win bottom-up support to help you achieve your digital change goals.

Plan for tomorrow, then plan some more

"It’s not by chance Mercedes spends 400million pounds in research, before any of its cars even touch the tarmac on an F1 race course”

- Dale Moreton

Sequential steps and having a clear vision is important in delivering effective change, especially digital change. Because of the stakeholders and the different departments involved, careful planning can help reduce any problems that can arise from digital change.

Things to plan for can include;

- The time involved
- Communication switchover
- Process implementation
- Information flow
- Stakeholder engagement
- KPIs

One of the most important things you should plan for is the overlap of time between where one process stops and the other starts. Effective planning can make this a seamless switchover, e.g. the switchover from paper memos to emails or paper reporting to PDF delivery.

The time you provide between the changes from one form to the other can greatly affect the success or failure of change. Remember to allow time for all stakeholders to get used to the difference in procedure. Gradual implementation can massively increase the realisation of how effective the change is and how much more resourceful, engaged and connected your organisation has become.

Delivering your changes can be quite a daunting task to begin with, but imagine your digital change as being part of a bigger picture e.g. say you want to move completely to online marketing by the next year; how do you do this?

The first steps would be to plan the resources needed to make this happen i.e. what platforms will you need, how will you deliver you content and who else will you need to involve? Consider this breakdown to achieve a well-grounded plan:

- Choose the right marketing platforms
- Select the best marketing channels
- Involve your stakeholders from the beginning
- Breakdown your marketing budget
- Hire specialists
- Plan 3 months ahead
- Encourage early adoption
- Measure success

Conclusion

This short guide will help you understand how to better manage a digital change in your workplace. Using the methods and information provided above, you can see how switching over to digital can be a tougher challenge than you may have previously thought.

Leadership methods vary in style, so it’s important you understand what approach you’re going to take when you deliver your digital changes in the workplace. How you lead and deliver change, can ultimately affect your future growth, customer base, business security, revenue and margins.

By Sunny Chana

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