Positioning Your Employees to Champion Digital Change
Time and time again we see that transforming an organization’s digital ecosystem can have tremendous benefits, especially when employees are leading the change. But far too often, the desire to have the latest tech and create great customer experiences overshadows the need to prioritize how your team works, which, in the worst cases, can cause the company’s transformation to be counterproductive.
As the connection between your customers and the broader organization, employees have the perspective to guide change in ways that serve everyone. In other words, to create exceptional customer experiences you need to have exceptional employee experiences. This must go beyond internal processes, practices, and culture, to include tools that work well for your team.
When employee experiences (EX) are prioritized at every stage of change management, from planning to implementation, companies are better positioned for successfully transforming their digital ecosystem. If, on the other hand, change is imposed onto the team without their input, there is greater likelihood that those changes will hinder their work, costing the organization valuable time and money.
What is Change Management?
Technology, and changes to technology, need to support employees by meeting the needs of their respective roles. When technology is working against employees, change is necessary.
In order to successfully plan for and navigate those changes, it is critical to understand the pain points in your team’s workflow and create space for ongoing input and feedback. This requires an iterative approach that calls on the employee’s voice for inspiring, guiding, and implementing changes which optimize the organization.
Effective Leaders Preparing for Change
Technological advancements are happening at an accelerating pace. While these advancements are exciting and valuable to organizations, they will inevitably impact existing operations. As a result, implementing any new technology along with the workflows and processes that come with it will cause some disruptive changes.
Meaningful leadership mitigates the extent to which a change causes disruption. As the people carrying out day-to-day work and communicating with customers, employees are well-positioned to intuit when and how change should happen, making their expertise invaluable to managing, or even deterring, disruptive changes. Ultimately, meaningful leadership means knowing the limits of your knowledge and actively learning from employees about how to make tech changes easier and more enjoyable.
To encourage employees to inform the process for tech changes, leaders need to nurture strong and safe internal communication. By encouraging transparent communication, you’re able to monitor the change management process while entrusting employees to identify potential problems. By empowering employees to guide change in the ways that support and enhance their work, digital transformations can help an organization surpass their goals, but doing so requires flexibility.
Effective leaders work flexibility and fluidity into their management style as much as structure and organization. Flexible approaches to managing tech changes are needed to ensure employee insights are being heard and acted on. So, dedicating budget-dollars is fundamental to supporting flexibility. Failing to do so will not only undermine the success of digital transformations, but may also frustrate employees and customers, while costing the organization extra time and money.
One study found that organizations that successfully enact navigated disruption in this way were 6 times more likely to achieve project objectives, 5 times more likely to stay ahead of schedule, and were even 2 times more likely to stay under budget.
Leaders must strive to regularly refine their understanding of the varying conditions for change, ranging from the problem at hand to the diverse variables affecting the adoption of the change.¹ To do this effectively however, they must heed employee experiences and expertise because they define when and how to make tech changes.
Internal Communication Strategy
Strong 360 degree communication channels are vital elements for effective leadership, especially when in a period of transformation. Championing change management means centering employees as those who are best-able to know where change is needed, and how change can happen.
Attentive communication, where leaders actively listen to employees and the insights they gain through experience, allows them to inform management decisions in ways that ultimately benefit the whole organization, including customers. Studies have shown that this inspires greater teamwork, trust, improves internal and external relations, fosters productivity, and shields employee commitment.²
Throughout the change management process, leaders look to employees to provide feedback and identify support needs. Only then can they thoroughly understand the full impact of tech changes. Ultimately, employees are best equipped to explain the potential and reality of tech changes. Privileging employee perspectives and experiences enables organizations to better illuminate and address pain-points for guiding change.
Change management embraces employees as the ones who get to define the experience of adopting new, innovative solutions. Organizations benefit from leadership that can effectively implement new technologies by deferring onto employees as the experts at managing changes and potential disruptions brought on by these changes.³
To make tailored improvements to your organization’s digital ecosystem, an employee-led change management approach is fundamental. Through this approach, organizations are better equipped to introduce new tech stacks that center employee needs, and in turn, the needs of customers. For change to last, transitions need to serve everyone.⁴
Prosci. “Change Management: Driving Change Success by Preparing, Equipping and Supporting Individuals to Thrive Through Change.” Prosci, Prosci, www.prosci.com/change-management . Accessed 23 Feb. 2022.
Berman, Alison E., and Jason Dorrier. “Technology Feels Like It’s Accelerating — Because It Actually Is.” SingularityHub, SingularityHub, 22 Mar. 2016, singularityhub.com/2016/03/22/technology-feels-like-its-accelerating-because-it-actually-is. Accessed 23 Feb. 2022
Paton, Robert A., and James McCalman. Change Management: A Guide to Effective Implementation. 3rd ed., New York, USA, SAGE Publications Ltd; Third Edition edition, 2008, books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=HA0FQOWx8ngC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=change+management+&ots=DWwkXlRj2b&sig=uJpn-_e2i2wfeyxxcCIyoThHIUs&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=change%20management&f=false.
Rajhans, Kirti. “Effective Organizational Communication: A Key to Employee Motivation and Performance.” Interscience Management Review, 2009, pp. 145–49. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.47893/imr.2009.1040.
 Paton, Robert A., and James McCalman. Change Management: A Guide to Effective Implementation.
 Rajhans, Kirti. Effective Organizational Communication: A Key to Employee Motivation and Performance.
 Berman, Alison E., and Jason Dorrier, Technology Feels Like It’s Accelerating — Because It Actually Is.
 Prosci, Change Management: Driving Change Success by Preparing, Equipping and Supporting Individuals to Thrive Through Change