Digital Transformation: 7 Tried and Tested Methods for Communicating Change


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Thursday, July 21, 2022

Knowing how to communicate change is a vital part of any digital transformation. Here are seven great methods to help get employees across the business on board.

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Digital Transformation: 7 Tried and Tested Methods for Communicating Change
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Getting a digital transformation right isn't all about the technology. Around 70% of all change programs end up failing to achieve their goals, and one of the main reasons for this is a lack of acceptance from users. It's therefore vital that you have a comprehensive change management strategy to address this issue and ensure employees are engaged with the project.

Good communication needs to be at the heart of this. Being able to explain clearly what the project involves, what its goals are and what employees will be expected to do is the first step in ensuring understanding. However, raising awareness isn't the only goal for communication. Project leaders also need to build confidence among users and ensure any questions or concerns are answered effectively.

7 ways to communicate change effectively

When it comes to communicating organizational change, keeping these key methods in mind will stand you in good stead. Follow these tips and you'll have a much better chance of connecting with employees and getting them on board with the transformation.

1. Be honest and transparent

Being honest and open is always essential in getting employees on board. While you want to be upbeat and positive about change, it's also important to be realistic. Don't focus only on the most optimistic scenarios or talk down to employees - they’ll quickly see through any attempts to spin setbacks or delays, for example.

At the same time, it's vital you keep things straightforward. Don't fill your presentations with technical jargon or complex language that the majority of people won't be familiar with, as this also causes employees to lose interest in the project.

2. Make it a two-way conversation

Listening is just as much an essential part of communication as talking. No-one likes feeling as if they're being lectured to, or having changes pushed on them. Therefore, it's important to have a process for feedback and to ensure conversations flow both ways. This could start with ensuring any presentation has a formal Q&A section planned into the agenda, setting up a 'town hall' open session, or creating a dedicated email or helpdesk to gather opinions.

It's also important to ensure that employees can see that any suggestions are being taken seriously. If people feel their input is being ignored, they'll not only stop giving it, but will be much more skeptical of the project as a whole.

3. Be clear on expectations

Any communication you have with your employees about change needs to have a clear call to action setting out exactly what individuals need to do and what's expected of them. Keep this as simple and clear as possible - for example, try cutting down any actions to two or three bullet points to ensure there can be no confusion.

4. Get senior leaders involved

Having the most senior and visible figures in your company on board with the project can have a a couple of key benefits. Firstly, people may be more likely to listen to explanations that come from this level, and secondly, seeing that C-suite executives are enthusiastic about a project goes a long way to boosting trust and confidence at all levels.

It's therefore essential that you get these personnel involved in your communications strategy. Have them take the lead on presentations, explainers and Q&A sessions so they can be seen by as many people as possible as backing the project.

5. Focus on the 'why', not the 'what'

The more you get bogged down in technical explanations and features, the more you'll turn employees off. Instead, make sure you're focusing on the reasons behind the change rather than the specifics of what it does. This can help ease any frustrations or confusion users may feel about adopting new technology, as if they can understand the reasoning behind it and what they can get out of it, they may be more willing to persevere.

6. Target the message to the audience

Make sure you use a variety of media to get your message across. Smaller seminars and hands-on workshops may be a better way to reach some people than an all-hands meeting where a senior executive or project leader simply goes through a presentation. Consider setting up resources such as FAQs on the company intranet or bulletin boards - and don't forget one-to-one chats in person as well where possible.

7. Highlight what's in it for your workforce

Ultimately, the only question you'll really have to answer from employees is 'what's in it for me?'. You can talk all you like about the effect your digital transformation will have on the company's bottom line, but if people don't see any benefit for themselves, they won't be interested or be willing to make changes to how they work.

There are a number of ways you can frame your communications to highlight real-world benefits to employees. If a project is looking to boost efficiency, don't talk about how much time or money it will save - highlight how it will cut down on tedious day-to-day processes. If the tool is aiming to help boost sales or open new markets, talk about what it could mean for them in terms of pay or opportunities.

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