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The human side of business transformation

When implementing change initiatives, it can be too easy to overlook the people making the changes happen. You have the power to make your team your biggest asset, a real driving force behind your business transformation efforts. Yet, for so many companies, employees are at best a footnote in change plans, and at worst, overlooked entirely.

Neglecting the ‘human side’ is why transformations fail

Research suggests that as many as 70% of all transformations fail. Industry insiders speculate numerous reasons for change failure, and cite endless contributing factors. But what they all boil down to, the common ground, is the relationship between the employees and the leaders – the people factor, or ‘human side’, if you will.

Let’s explore some of the common causes of change failure:

Not aligning staff with your vision

You have a vision for change, but do your teams share that vision? Has it been expressed to them effectively, and are they aware of the drivers behind the change? So many leaders fail to align their workers with their vision. What they convey to them instead is merely a mission, without any of the background or wider picture that generates the full vision. The absence of proper understanding can result in resistance from workers who perceive the change to be futile or tiresome.

Poor buy-in

As a result of lacking information, many leaders will suffer poor buy-in from employees for their change initiatives. A weak culture that isn’t aligned with the vision means workers are unlikely to be onboard with the transformation efforts. Employees will not understand the importance of their participation, nor will they invest the energy needed to make change happen.

A lack of training or resources

For change to happen successfully, those at the top must recognise that frontline workers will likely need a shift in skillset. Whilst this is more apparent with digital transformations – retraining employees on new software etc. is common – it is often overlooked in other types of change. Successful transformation depends upon professional development training for progressionprofessional development training for progression. Similarly, change managers rarely implement adequate levels of additional resources to support existing workers and to make the program of change run smoothly.

Employees are your biggest asset when it comes to change

As a change manager or any leader pushing transformation, you are up against it! Only 22% of frontline employees like to leave their comfort zone – suggesting that you are bound to receive a level of resistance from 78% of your staff!

Building confidence in personal abilities

In order to overcome resistance, you must understand what is causing your workers to feel this way, and display empathy. Change is unsettling, and without a full understanding of what is happening, where the business is heading and what it means for them, employees are unlikely to feel excited by the prospect of change initiatives. Change also makes employees question their personal abilities. If an employee does not believe they can succeed in your change management initiative, then the battle is as good as lost already.

Openly sharing your vision will build your team’s understanding of the change, and help them to feel more settled. Take this a step further by conveying where they fit into the plans, and how you are going to support them through change management initiatives. Self-confidence comes with experience, yes, but it can also come from coaching, training, and guidance. Be sure to provide your team members with this and you’ll set yourself up for success.

Take onboarding a step further

To succeed in your change efforts, you must focus less on the battle of onboarding employees, and more on the war – keeping them aboard! Do this successfully and your team becomes a real driving force in the transformation. Start by overcoming any roadblocks preventing buy-in, such as those mentioned above, then work to form a plan of action for continual support.

Next, give your employees ownership of tasks. The best way to get your team excited about the future is by making them a part of it. Let them bring the change vision to fruition, and celebrate milestones and early progress to keep them motivated. And, keepKeep telling the story! Reinforcing the vision and ambition will help to embed it. It will also validate your team’s hard work and how it is supporting the motion towards success.

Change initiatives present an opportunity for professionals to advance, but even with the best laid plans, not everyone will get on board, that’s all part of the ‘human side’ of business transformation. But by taking action, valuing your employees and their contributions, you will be optimally positioned for success. For your business to transform, the people that make the transformation happen must be central to the initiative.