Use a people-centered approach to make digital strategies work.
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As a business professional, it is pretty easy to streamline bringing your digital transformation into play today. This not only enables better productivity and cost savings, but is also an essential strategy in light of the current COVID-19 crisis and the resulting forced labor / buy-from-home attitudes. However, this shift is more than just setting up network security or letting your printer go. Your entire company needs to support change, help everyone develop the new features they need, and understand the implications for corporate culture or structure. In this sense, a successful digital transformation is 100 percent about people.
Related: So, the pandemic has sent your digital transformation into hyperdrive. What now?
Before the pandemic, leaders understood that digital transformation was inevitable and they made concrete plans for change. But these plans weren't for everyone. Each company set its budget and pace based on industry and company specifications. In many cases, the strategy has been a gradual evolution towards new tools and operating methods.
Then came COVID-19. Things had to change. Due to lockdowns and general social distancing measures from local and state authorities, the physical office was no longer feasible for thousands of businesses. Many companies had to move to a remote environment within a few days.
Related Topics: How COVID-19 Is Accelerating Digital Transformation For Small And Medium Businesses
There is no doubt that this has been stressful for everyone involved. But out of necessity the people answered. They figured out what would work, at least temporarily, and began to realize that their digital shifts didn't have to be so gradual or wait. Although companies worked with employees, partners, and stakeholders to drive digital adoption well before the virus emerged, the pandemic served as a positive catalyst that helped make the move to remote working much faster. They had no choice but to serve customers through a nearly 100 percent digital experience and they had to adapt quickly – and they did.
Strategies for maintaining momentum
COVID-19 gave companies a massive push towards digital transformation. But now that we've had that first boost, it's important to keep moving forward. We need to understand the gap between our companies' current performance and capabilities, and where they need to be in the market to stay competitive.
Related: Does Your Company Need Digital Transformation?
Perhaps the biggest secret to avoiding relapse is developing talent agility. Nick Gidwani, in an article for Pathgather, defines talent agility as “a company's ability to change the makeup of talent within the organization quickly and cheaply. In doing so, all levers are taken into account that are required to build up and develop talents: learning and development, acquisition and retention of talents and their involvement. “The more agile your talent pool, the better your company can constantly redesign itself to meet new market challenges, offer new products and services and fend off competition.
There are six key aspects of talent agility that you need to embed into your business in order to keep your digital transformation dynamic for the months and years to come:
Your people embrace change. Although workers in some industries are more concerned than others, Pew Research found that 65 percent of Americans expect robots and computers to likely do their jobs. A CNBC / Survey Monkey poll also found that more than a quarter of workers (27 percent) fear technology will eliminate their jobs in the next five years. Feeling threatened in this way is hardly good for morale or productivity. By supporting the digital adoption and helping them understand and take responsibility for the change, you control fear in your workforce and encourage collaboration instead of dismay.
Your workload may have changed. Many companies are rethinking their responsibilities and even adjusting the size of their workforce as they look to the future after COVID-19. Hence, it is important to help people understand the role they are playing and how they are adding value, and to make sure that the workload really stays balanced despite a reallocation.
You may need further education to address talent shortages and skill gaps. Remote strategies and tools often require different skills than those in the traditional office or infrastructure. You may need to acknowledge that some or even all of your employees are unable to drive the recovery or accelerate growth. Make sure they have the training and capabilities they need to be successful in the new environment rather than assuming they will no longer be able to do the job.
Your work culture may have changed. Working remotely presents new benefits and challenges that can affect the overall atmosphere of your company. As part of your ongoing retention strategy, work specifically to ensure that people are not afraid to ask questions or question existing ideas, and that they are all committed to similar values and priorities.
You need to increase employee engagement. The link between learning, engagement, and retention is clear: Deloitte found that committed employees were 87 percent less likely to leave their organization. You need to find new ways to make sure people are interested and happy even when they are away from the office and want to take part in work activities afterwards.
Your workforce is diverse and cross-functional. In the past, managers thought that homogeneous teams were easier to manage. But similarities between members created biased problem-solving patterns. To develop talent agility, cross-functional, collaborative teams must be the norm and abandon the silo mentality.
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A certain amount of employee pushback during a significant change like the current shift in digital transformation is normal, if only because the familiar offers some convenience. But there is no turning back. The world changes and evolves, and it is up to us to change with it. Purposely build a customer and employee centric culture that allows you to spin around as needed, rather than being overwhelmed or controlled by the pushback.