While their businesses are undergoing digital transformation, leaders are failing to recognise one element crucial to their success: their people. Organisations have spent the better part of the last decade transforming in a bid to keep up with constant disruption, fast pace of technological change and skills shortages. 

And while some are slowly starting to see results, most are not getting far ahead according to McKinsey. Founder of training and consulting company Ideagarden, Jenny Williams says the issue starts with the word ‘transformation.’

“It tends to imply that we’re going to come up with a plan and then we’re going to go through a major period of upheaval and then we’re finished. This is fundamentally flawed because ultimately everybody is in a constant state of change,” Williams says.

“Getting the ROI out of a transformation requires that you invest almost as much effort in making sure that people take it up as you had in bringing on the technology,” she adds. 

Because after years of continual change, employees start suffering the effects of change fatigue. Traditional change management tools and techniques are simply not enough to help navigate people through a state of perpetual upheaval. Engagement scores can be easily skewed depending on how they are structured and the time it takes to collate, plan and action the results can take too long.

“If you’re lucky it gets half an hour on a boardroom agenda. It can then take another month for the management team to formulate any kind of action plan and six months before anything actually happens within the organisation – by which stage, most of the people who had a major issue have probably left,” she says. 

Jenny says businesses can start building more emotionally intelligent workplaces by applying some new ways of thinking.

  1. Bring it to board level: Make employee engagement a business imperative, not a HR issue.
  2. Make it count: Make the wellbeing and experience of your employees as important as your NPS score.
  3. Find your key players: Think about who the key employees in your organisation are – not by seniority, but by influence and tenure – and involve them in important conversations.
  4. Measure right: Implement new employee engagement and experience measures that provide actionable results fast.
  5. Support a transformation mindset: Develop new mindsets and support your employees in accepting that change is constant and normal, and day-to-day learning is a part of life.

About this author

Andrew Birmingham is the director of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which ADMA is a corporate member. Members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply. 


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