Human Capital

Let’s face the facts: Approximately 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail. A similar percentage of organizational change initiatives (70%) fail to reach stated objectives. Why?

 

It starts and ends with commitment issues. 

 

You wouldn’t start making resolutions or proposing an organizational change if you weren’t non-committal to the status quo in the first place. Still, those of you maintaining a relatively stable lifestyle, relationship, career, etc. may have thought you didn’t have commitment issues. However, if you ever experience patterns of not doing what you intended to do when you intended to do it, then your commitment issues are alive and well, and they’re undermining your power to create change at the individual and organizational levels. “Symptoms” of commitment issues include but are not limited to: “snoozing” alarms, starting/ ending work (or your workout) later than planned, procrastinating, burning your food, giving up on New Year’s Resolutions, and mismanaging digital transformations.

The good news – humans have sucked at commitment for a long time, so experts in psychology and business have developed strategies for understanding commitment and preparing people for a timely change. The great news? These strategies apply to New Year’s Resolutions and organizational change – Here’s how:

 

Start by asking yourself “how committed am I, really?”

 

Imagine it’s New Year’s Eve – you ate too much, drank too much, and the resolution “I’m going to get in shape this year” rolled off your tongue. Of course, it did. You’d just overdone it, and the fantasy of being in shape a year from now feels way better than your current discomfort. Time and money investments aren’t a factor when you’re looking forward to just how much you can accomplish in a year. Plus, what does getting “in shape” even mean – how will you know when you’re there, how will you get there, and how will you maintain progress? So many exciting paths you can take on your fitness journey! So many chances to fail because you haven’t committed until you’ve clearly defined what you’re committing to – the process and outcome. 

The digital transformation “resolution” tends to take a similar course. Imagine you’re meeting with company leaders. Challenges from 2018 are reviewed, including overdue projects that were also over-budget, departmental siloes with redundant initiatives, and knowledge workers spending most of their days on administrative duties. Leadership in the room agreed “it’s time to digitally transform our business,” because they’re realizing the way they’ve been working is not working. Surely, they can save more time and money with all the technological advancements they have to choose from! All they have to do is acquire another tool and then email an announcement when it’s time for go-live. This is usually when their workforce tells the project sponsors to “go…”

This is not commitment.

To be clear – the desire to change is not problematic in either scenario. The desire to address challenges and improve, like your non-committal response to the status quo, is the start to impactful change.

 

Misunderstanding the desire to change as a commitment to change is the problem.

 

Prematurely assuming commitment without the readiness and preparation that comes when people really commit is a recipe for wasting time, money, and morale. Until you’ve precisely defined where you are, why you can’t stay there, where you need to go, when, and who’s going with you – including plans and contingency plans – you have not committed. Preparing for change is a lot of work, but it’s inspired, intuitive and rewarding work when you’re truly committed to the process and targeted outcomes.

 

Once you’ve acknowledged commitment issues, determine your stage of change.

 

Even if you’ve slipped on your resolution or realized your transformation plan isn’t nearly detailed enough to create sustainable change, stay in the change game by more thoroughly evaluating your commitment and readiness for change.

The Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of Change helps psychologists “diagnose” where people are in the process of changing their behavior at individual and organizational levels.1 In the TTM, people and organizations move through five stages of change, characterized by varying levels of commitment and readiness to change.

  1. Precontemplation

For the “get in shape” resolution, this stage may mean neither being thrilled about your current “shape” or seeing it as a problem. It sounds like “I can shape up, I just don’t want to today; Maybe I’ll want to soon.” For a digital transformation, this an organization recognizing they could save time and money or produce more, but business is good enough. Time to change? Nah.

  1. Contemplation

This is the New Year’s Eve and digital transformation “resolution” scenario described earlier. It’s decided that your current “shape” or your way of working is problematic, and there’s a belief that the problems could be addressed. However, plans to solve identified problems are vague. Time to change? Not yet, but it will be within the first half of the year.

  1. Preparation

The preparation stage for getting in shape is when you’ve defined your current “shape,” the target for “in shape,” and the path you’ll take to get there (e.g., plans for nutrition, physical activity, and overcoming challenges). You’ve committed to start enacting these plans within the month. Generally speaking, you’re probably around the preparation stage in the digital transformation process when you’ve selected digital solutions and outlined an implementation process/ timeline that’s aligned with the transformation project objectives. More importantly yet more often overlooked, you’ve developed a detailed change management plan for engaging, training, supporting, and communicating with stakeholders – everyone you need to sponsor, support, and embrace the change while managing other business demands. This stage is the test of an organization’s commitment to digital transformation. This stage done right requires investments in change management.

  1. Action

You know you’re in action when you’ve started enacting plans for change and you believe you’ll continue for the foreseeable future. You’ve started working out, eating, and managing your environment according to the plan for getting in shape. For digital transformations – stakeholders are being engaged, getting trained, receiving regular updates, giving feedback, and seeing their feedback responded to in an iterative process of implementing improvements. This sounds nice and small wins are celebrated along the way, but it’s way easier described than done. Inevitably there are challenges, people get tired, distracted, and the phrase “things get worse before they get better” applies as productivity and spirits tend to dip before benefits are clearly realized. Still, change readily occurs when the preparation stage was done right. Well-prepared organizations have committed to change management plans for overcoming barriers to the desired action.

  1. Maintenance

This is when you’ve enacted your “in shape” and transformation plans for a period of time (6 months according to the TTM for an individual change) and need to sustain positive changes. Part of the planning in the preparation stage should have included how to fold into your lifestyle the behavioral changes you made to get “in shape.” In order to maintain digital transformation initiatives and maximize the benefits of selected solutions, organizational culture needs to transform in tandem with the digital adoption process. That quality change management plan you developed during the Preparation Stage should have included steps for reinforcing digital transformation outcomes over time by integrating them into the way people work.

 

After diagnosing your change stage, engage in stage-matched behaviors.

 

Once you’re realistic about your current stage of change, you’re ready to explore ways to catalyze or capitalize on your commitment so that you can progress through additional stages.

For your New Year’s Resolution, find an accountability buddy, coach, or therapist to help you commit to the change. For your digital transformation, contact LeapPoint to learn more about how we work with customers to understand their commitment and increase their readiness for change with stage-appropriate approaches to change management.

So, in the season and spirit of failing, fail fast – be honest with yourself about your commitment to personal and professional resolutions, and if you’re not committed then it’s not the right time. You’ll know what to do when it is.

Communication is a word that we hear all the time, and even though we know what it is by definition and why it’s important, we don’t always grasp the real necessity of it in a business context and how it can be applied strategically to your business.

What is good communication?

Communication is more than just stringing words into a sentence that can be understood by others; it’s a process that involves careful consideration to get the desired response. If you want to have a positive impact on your colleagues and just about everyone in your life, you have to plan your communication approach. Here is an example of how to tackle an issue in the workplace:

1. Be clear about what you’re saying – Identify the problem and speak in a calm, compassionate manner.
2. Be direct and to the point because this way you get to focus on what’s important without getting derailed.
3. Suggest a solution that you think would address the issue.
4. Listen carefully and respectfully to what the other person(s) have to say.

Once an issue is raised thoughtfully, negotiations will commence until both sides find a resolution that works.

Why an internal communications strategy matters?

So, what does it mean to be genuinely strategic? A good strategy involves planning an actionable response to any potential problems that can arise at any given time and frequently reviewing your plan to find out what is working and what isn’t. After all, it makes good business sense to implement a carefully crafted plan which highlights company goals and objectives to reach these goals.

You’d be surprised just how many businesses don’t have an actionable plan and leave their internal communications to chance. But the problem with this is that it can have a detrimental effect on a business. For instance, it can lead to low employee engagement which can lower morale and efficiency in the workplace. And who represents the company? Your employees. And everything about the way they manage these interactions gives an overall impression of the company in question.

Achieving enterprise objectives through communications

Michelle Roberts, a CEO with more than twenty years of experience in crisis management and strategic planning emphasizes the importance of identifying strategic goals and the tactics to attain them. She notes that “Strategic communication is much more than just words; it’s about aligning actions, words, and images to reinforce the business’s strategic goals. It’s what builds a company’s reputation.”

Roberts also recognizes the importance of thinking collectively when it comes to tackling the different types of communications within a firm. She mentions that if social media, marketing, advertising, public relations, and the company website are managed individually, it can give a disjointed impression to customers. Thus, damaging the company’s reputation.

These days the communication process is multi-directional, so listening is just as critical as communicating. If your company is getting poor online feedback, it’s essential to take on board what the customers are saying and look at how you can improve.

Lastly, consulting with your staff on a regular basis is necessary to ensure that your internal communications strategy is working. If some aspects of it need tweaking, you can do that before little problems turn into big problems.

The transition to digital technology has disrupted nearly every industry. In today’s marketplace, change is no longer optional. Organizations that fail to embrace the digital transformation of business simply can’t compete. Some companies have attempted to move towards digital technologies, only to see their projects fail. Unfortunately, they took a technology-centric approach to convert their business practices. But successful digital transformation isn’t determined by your technology or your strategy – it is determined by the people who make up your business.

The power of human capital

The secret to successfully shifting organizational culture is the same whether you want to improve engagement levels or enhance digital prowess: strong, inspirational leadership at every level of the organization. From the top down, your management team must be capable of making a business case, influencing culture, and connecting with employees on a personal level. With the right leadership, transparent communication, and a strong focus on business solutions, your company’s transition to the digital world is sure to be a win.

Including the right internal resources

One of the biggest mistakes that transformation teams make is not having enough of the right internal people in the mix. The digital transformation of business appears, at first glance, to fall squarely in the IT department’s span of control. Though technology professionals play a critical role, there are a variety of additional internal resources that must be included in your project team. For example, you must enlist assistance from leaders with decision-making authority on operations, quality, and budgeting. Nothing slows a team down more than spending weeks developing a solution that doesn’t meet the needs of the business.

The most effective transformation teams understand that a collaborative approach is the best way to ensure all staff members are on-board. Enlist help from highly-engaged staff members at every level of the organization to take ownership of the digital transition. These early adopters are the first to test new technology, and they can be relied upon to train and encourage their colleagues. By including these individuals on the project team, the transition moves quickly and efficiently through the organization with minimal resistance.

Creating the most effective partnerships

Partners from outside the organization are critical to your success. Of course, this depends on the experience and expertise they bring to the table. Yours is not the first company to move towards digital transformation, and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Connect with subject matter experts that have developed solutions for a variety of businesses similar to yours. These specialists make it easy to bridge the gap between technology and its deployment.

When engaging partners from outside the organization, thoroughly vet prospects as you would any other business relationship. You are making a significant investment in digital technology, and these individuals can dramatically influence your eventual ROI. Examine previous projects and gain a deep understanding of their successes and failures with other companies. Determine whether potential partners have appropriate capabilities for organizations that are similar in size and volume.

Depending on the product or service you offer and the clientele you serve, your needs will be markedly different. Make sure prospective partners have the experience and expertise required to create solutions that are right for your business.

Learn more about moving your business to the digital world – explore our services and products at www.leappoint.com.

In the workplace, change means progress, new technology, business growth, and increased productivity. But if poorly managed, change can only lead to one thing…employee burnout. What can you do to prevent change burnout and ensure sustainable results? Given the rush to digital transformation across all industries these days, the answer may surprise you – slow down.

In the fitness industry, there’s a widely known training method called Time Under Tension (or TUT for short). It is commonly used in strengthening, conditioning and bodybuilding – all of which involve changing one’s physiology. TUT refers to how long a muscle is under strain during a set. While you may see people at the gym powering through their training with heavy weights and be tempted to replicate their method, the idea of TUT is to think in slow motion – intentionally slow your workouts down to activate your muscles, focus on form, and prevent injuries. By taking the slow and steady path, and evolving your strategy once you pass specific benchmarks, you increase your odds of sustaining your new lifestyle and achieving your goals.

Similarly, a paced and steady path is crucial for effective change management. Technology has transformed every industry, and there’s an increasing pressure to keep up or be left behind. This triggers a knee-jerk reaction to seek change and implement it as quickly as possible. But just like people in the gym who are seeking fast results through heavy lifting, if you push for change too rapidly and without a phased plan of action, you’re likely going to hurt your progress and productivity. So what can you do to ensure smooth and successful transitions within your organization and avoid burnout? Here are 6 tips to follow:

1. Be transparent

When you realize change is necessary, be open with your employees about what needs to change. You’re likely making these changes to benefit those involved, so why keep your team in the dark? Before starting any implementation, hold a meeting to explain what the changes will look like, how and when they will take place, and the anticipated benefits. With open communication, employees are more likely to feel like valued members of the organization.

2. Listen

Digital leaders need a pulse on their organization’s baseline culture in order to recognize shifts in morale and other signs of change saturation. You hired your employees because they are smart, capable, and bring unique skills and perspectives to the table. So create opportunities for them to share their experiences and listen. At least as important as holding a meeting before implementing change is having regular follow-up sessions to keep your employees aware of progress as it unfolds and listen for potential signs of burnout. This time also provides space for employees to share their frustrations and concerns, find solutions, and feel “heard.”

3. Understand the impact change has on your workforce

Any significant change in the workplace can mean more stress for your employees – this can lead to poor performance and employee burnout. In fact, stress over organizational changes has been found to lower the average employee’s performance and engagement. Having a manager who understands the burden that change places on their employees and who encourages them to cope with that stress in healthy ways helps prevent burnout while promoting loyalty and a sense of comradery during transitional periods.

4. Reward champions of change

Adapting to change isn’t easy. But it’s made a little bit easier by encouragers and leaders within the team who step up to the plate when the process gets tough. Have you noticed certain employees going above and beyond to help others adjust to a new transition, share their knowledge, and support their teammates? Publicly reward those employees in unique ways (it doesn’t necessarily have to be in monetary form!) The reward matters less than the genuine expression of gratitude to your employees.

5. Delegate tasks

Significant workplace change may call for new roles to increase the odds of a smooth transition. To avoid overwhelming one or two employees, evenly distribute tasks associated with the change across your team, and publicly announce these change-related roles. This will give employees a personal investment in making the change a success and create a shared sense of having some skin in the game.

6. Publically post metrics and goals

Change in the workplace is hard enough. Don’t waste your team’s precious time tracking down information, instructions, and resources necessary to successfully adjust. Keep your goals and metrics accessible. Technologies and services are available to help your organization’s leaders post directions, processes, and helpful resources facilitate smooth transitions.