This situation has arisen due to a failure of communication. Specifically, management figures have failed to communicate the meaning and implications of the digital transformation process to their employees. Now, those in charge have a responsibility to discuss the issue with staff. But what’s the best way of going about doing so? Here, we take a look at why you need to think about what you’re going to say and how you can talk to your staff about digital transformation in the easiest and most effective way possible.
The principal reason you need to carefully consider your approach to talking about digital transformation is that too many people have failed to do so in the past. This has fed employee fear and allowed it to grow and develop. Due to the fact that no one has provided staff with a satisfactory explanation of what digital transformation is, they’re scared for their futures. This is entirely natural – we fear what we don’t understand. They see greater automation by increasingly powerful AI chatbot services and there is concern that jobs aren’t safe.
This isn’t just a problem for employees, it makes life more difficult for employers, too. In fact, employee reluctance to embrace the process means that 74% of employers now think cultural and organisational issues pose more of an obstacle to digital transformation than any technological changes.
6 Considerations for Conversations with Staff
The first thing an employer has to do in a conversation about digital transformation is to define your terms. What do you mean by “digital transformation?” Who will digital transformation affect? How will it affect them? These aren’t questions that you can avoid if you want to get your team on-side.
This is the time to address employee fears and explain that digital transformation isn’t a process by which human roles are gradually automated and employees replaced. Instead, it’s a process that prepares an organisation for the future by taking employees away from tedious tasks and empowering them to tackle more complex and nuanced work that’s more worthy of their attention.
It’s an approach that recognises the importance of digital technology, experimentation and, ultimately, failure and that looks to challenge business norms. This is perhaps best demonstrated by automated telephony services. They streamline service provision, cut waiting times, and allow human agents to do their jobs more effectively. It’s not a case of getting rid of human agents, it’s a matter of facilitating improved performance.
A monologue is not the same as a conversation. If you don’t give your employees an opportunity to ask their own questions and voice their own concerns, you’re not engaging with them in a way that’s likely to satisfy them.
This means that you need to make yourself available for questioning and that there should be more than one opportunity for staff to discuss the issue. Ideally, management would ensure that employees know that they can come and talk about digital transformation at any time. However, there should also be a means of voicing concerns anonymously.
Talking to your employees about digital transformation in smaller groups is likely to prove much more rewarding than trying to communicate with the entire workforce. Not only is it a more personal form of communication, but employees will also feel more comfortable asking questions.
This also gives you the opportunity to tailor your approach depending on the audience. After all, employees in the warehouse are going to harbour different concerns to those who work in HR. With each group you speak to, think about how digital transformation is likely to affect them specifically and consider ways you can assuage their doubts.
If you’re going to try and convince employees that digital transformation isn’t necessarily something negative, it might be better to show them, rather than tell them. One way of doing this is by demonstrating how digital technology can be used to empower them. Give your staff access to tools that make their work easier, allow them to take the initiative, or enable them to focus on more challenging tasks, and you’re likely to win them over much more quickly.
It’s also a good idea to show how digital transformation can help employees further their career. If a particular individual has expressed an interest in taking the next step and is looking for a promotion, it may be possible to use new digital technology as a means of testing their abilities. When individuals realise that their own personal development is tied to digital transformation, self-interest kicks in and they’re far more likely to embrace change.
Finally, it’s important that you leverage all of your employees’ experience and expertise to make your digital transformation strategy a success. This is key for a number of different reasons:
- It demonstrates that staff are an essential part of the digital transformation process and can’t be entirely replaced by digital technologies.
- It invests them in the process. Once an individual is invested in a process, they’re much more likely to embrace the changes that come with it.
- You need them. Though you may have a good understanding of what digital transformation entails, no transformation strategy will succeed without the assistance of your employees.
If there’s one big takeaway from this article, it should be the need for transparency and honesty. You need to talk to your employees about digital transformation in a way that ensures they believe what you’re saying. You need to make yourself available and think of the effect this process is going to have on your employees as individuals. Only then will you be able to begin building a digital future together. For more information about the digital transformation process, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experienced team members.