Three HR habits for a smooth digital transformation

  • Posted on November 8, 2018
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes

This article was originally published on Forbes.com.

Digital transformation is a popular buzzword these days, and it can mean just about anything. From new software for your business to using technology to create new ways of doing business, digital transformation is having a profound effect on the way people work. Regardless of how you define digital transformation or what it means to your company, investing in digital transformation means investing in more than just new technology. It requires investing in your employees as well.

Digital transformation efforts, regardless of the form they take, require change. These changes may be big or small, but without adequate investment in the human element of your digital transformation, the effort will not drive the results you had hoped for. It’s absolutely imperative to ensure employees are appropriately prepared, trained and excited about the changes to come. HR plays a key role in that preparation and training. Here are three methods to creating a smooth and successful digital transformation.

1. Set Clear Goals
For a smooth transition, it’s important to know where you’re going. Setting clear goals is important not only for those who are driving digital transformation, but also for the HR team involved to do the same. What do you want to do differently than what you have done in the past? What outcomes are you looking for? Start with the desired outcome, work backward from there and engage your employees along the way.

As you set these goals, don’t aim for perfection right off the bat. That’s not achievable, and it will only set you up for failure. Have a road map for continuous improvement, and expect pitfalls; it’s all part of the journey. Encourage your employees to interface with the new technology and talk about the reality of when it goes live. Work closely with those driving the transformation to ensure the proper trainings are in place so that a new user can come in and interact with the new technology without having to read a 50-page manual — make it easy for them to learn.

2. Invest In Change Management
In addition to focusing on your employees, be sure to examine the process of the change itself. It’s easy to forget that the way the change is communicated and rolled out to employees can mean more to your success or failure than the change itself. For example, companies are often tempted to set their “go live” date at the beginning of the fiscal year — it’s a nice clean break from the old into the new. But employees are often bombarded with new policies, procedures and products at the beginning of the fiscal year. Do your employees a favor and hold off until a less busy time.

Communication about these changes is also key, but over-communication can actually destroy employee excitement and kill your project before it even gets off the ground. A “coming soon” sign for a new restaurant or store usually creates a lot of excitement and buzz, until reality sets in and “soon” becomes a long time. The buzz wears off, and people stop caring about what was coming in the first place. This holds true for product launches too. Don’t say something is going live soon and not follow through with the specific timing. This is frustrating for employees, and they just stop taking it seriously. It’s also important that key influencers within your organization are on board. These influencers, including both formal and informal leaders within the business, can help with the change-management process. By investing in the journey, as well as the final result, of digital transformation, key influencers can help employees gain a sense of ownership, which in turn can drive successful adoption rates.

3. Measure Twice
In addition to setting clear goals, it’s important to actually measure yourself against those goals. Have a plan in place for how you will measure success, and then work with key leaders to hold yourself accountable to those goals. If you aren’t seeing the results you had hoped for, take a step back and reevaluate. Don’t be afraid to stop a process or product that is not working for your team. There is no shame in this, and you will end up saving a lot of time and money in the long run.

While these tips will hopefully make your digital transformation journey a smooth and successful one, remember that digital transformation is rarely a one-and-done effort. You can apply the learnings — both success and failures — to the next journey to continually make change easier, smoother and more efficient.

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