Your Employees Have Questions About Change. Here's How CIOs Can Answer Them


Tech Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for IT pros

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Digital transformation projects will naturally lead to concerns from staff. Here's how to speak to employees about change when they have questions.

Article 4 Minutes
Your Employees Have Questions About Change. Here's How CIOs Can Answer Them

Change is a fact of life for every business, especially when it comes to digital tools. Your competitors don't stand still, so it's vital you're always working to equip your employees with the latest technology in order to boost performance, improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue.

The importance of strong engagement

But despite the obvious benefits of digital transformation, many such initiatives fail. In fact, according to a study by the Everest Group, almost three-quarters of businesses (73%) will fail to see any business value at all from their digital transformation projects. And one of the key reasons for this is that employees don't fully embrace the new solutions.

Poor employee engagement may stem from a lack of understanding or confidence in the goals of the project, or a resistance to changing the way they do things. But whatever the root cause, an unwillingness to embrace change can result in wasted time, effort and money.

Therefore, getting employees on board needs to be a top priority for any digital transformation, just as much as adopting the right technical tools and having a clear plan for development and release.

6 key questions employees ask about change - and how to answer them

It's inevitable you'll get questions about change. But answering them effectively can prevent any natural doubts from building into major issues. Therefore, by preparing for the most common questions, you stand the best chance of getting your employees on board and ensuring the transition to new technology goes as seamlessly as possible.

Here are six key questions you need to have the answers to immediately:

1. Why is this happening now?

If employers have been happily using the same systems and tools for many years, they may not have noticed any major issues, or will wonder why tried and tested solutions are no longer good enough. Therefore, you need to highlight any changes that mean legacy tools aren't fit for purpose anymore. This could be that you're being undercut by more efficient competitors, or you're risking being left behind by evolving market conditions.

2. Why is this necessary?

Related to the above, users will likely want to know why they need to adapt to change. In this case, it's important to explain the risks of standing still. But try not to focus too heavily on high-level business issues, such as losing market share. Instead, make it personal to users, by focusing on what reduced revenue might mean for their role, such as fewer promotion opportunities or the need for more tedious manual activities.

3. What will this mean for me?

It's important to frame the change in terms of how it will benefit people's day-to-day work. If the goal is to increase efficiency, highlight how it will free up their time for more interesting activities. Will expected increased revenue result in more commissions, or opportunities for pay increases? Find out what matters to individuals and tailor your responses to their key frustrations or pain points.

4. What are my options?

New technologies can only succeed if people use them, so you need to make clear that simply opting out of the system isn’t an option. However, this doesn't mean you have to impose a top-down, dictatorial approach on people, which they will usually resent. Make sure you explain clearly what the timeline for the project is so they know what to expect and when. At the same time, make sure they have options for education about the changes and any new systems - not everyone learns in the same way, so make sure you're not forcing all your employees down the same path when it comes to adoption.

5. How can I raise any objections?

A strong feedback system is a key part of any development process. Users need to feel as though their voices and concerns are being heard, but also see that any suggestions or ideas they have are being considered and implemented into the final product. Have a clear line of communication between dev teams and business units, with representatives for each so people always know exactly who to raise any issues with.

6. Will this affect the way I work?

While you may want to speak in more general terms about the overall benefits the change will bring to their work, it's important to be honest about any specific changes to how they do things, especially if this means learning new processes, reporting structures or responsibilities. There are a couple of particular worries that are likely to come up again and again, such as concerns that it will increase their workload or, conversely, that it may make their role redundant. As such, it's important to have reassurances ready to go as soon as these issues are raised. No-one wants to hear a response such as 'I'll look into it' that suggests the impact on employees hasn't been considered.

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