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How to Prepare your Employees for a Business Transformation

A 2018 Tech Pro Research survey found that about 70% of companies have a digital transformation strategy in place. Estimates found that 40% of all technology spending in 2019 (about $2 trillion) would be spent on digital transformation. Yet, in 2018, it was estimated that $900 billion of the money spent on digital transformation went to waste.

Why are we seeing such staggering numbers?

Leaders understand the need for digital transformation, but they aren’t prepared to support it. Systems and processes are quickly changing, adding new technology to the workplace: automated warehouses, artificial intelligence in call centers, IoT enabled data collection, etc. But, let’s not forget our human element. For most people, changing deeply ingrained habits doesn’t come easily. Your employees will have to undergo a shift in mindset and behavior. So, how does a company prepare for change and carry out a plan to ensure a successful end result?

Understanding the Motivation to Change

The impact of motivation on training outcomes isn’t much of a debate, but an effective learning strategy has to consider how best to apply motivational theories. For instance, Expectancy theory describes the relationship between expectations and reward: perceptions of the likelihood of success interact with reward valuation to drive behavior. Vroom suggests starting with the discovery of employee values and capabilities. Then, it’s much easier to design training content that will motivate employees. However, the goals must be perceived as achievable. Expectancy theory tells us that employees will lose motivation if the goal is too much larger than the benefit.

People are motivated to exhibit behaviors that produce rewarding outcomes. So, it’s common for training content to address the benefits for individual employees, as well as the company. AllenComm worked with a US-based banking client that required similar motivational considerations. They were using an outdated, overly complex banking system that needed updating. Since this change would affect employees all over the company, it was important to convey that this wasn’t a change for convenience alone. Our language had to elaborate on the ways in which this change would make their jobs easier and increase efficiency.

The change management initiative had two goals:

  1. Simplify compliance with government regulations
  2. Give employees more time to focus on customers’ needs

By arriving at a unified goal, all of the changes that followed had a purpose that management and employees could rally around. They understood that this change wasn’t simply cosmetic or for convenience, but it ultimately contributed to the company’s mission.

Employee Onboarding for Meaningful Change

To effectively manage change, leaders within the organization need to set clear expectations of the desired results. More importantly, your initiative needs to have some form of data-tracking in place to measure the impact of training. Having data-based goals will make that much easier.

In the case of our banking client, the transformation was motivated by a desire to spend less time looking for information and more time speaking with customers. So, a great measurement of success would be reducing the amount of time spent in the new operating system compared to the old system.

None of these changes would be possible, however, without an effective employee onboarding design strategy. AllenComm developed a web-based training strategy, with a few guiding principles in mind:

Customer Focused

Training content was framed in the context of helping customers. So, employees weren’t just learning how to use an operating system. They were learning how to quickly access information critical to their conversations, and how to provide customers with the right answers.

Role Specific

Learners participated in interactive activities with direct application and personal relevance to their roles at the bank. Employees weren’t expected to receive training on aspects of the digital transformation that did not affect them.

Strategically Spaced

Spacing out training delivery increases knowledge retention. It also allows more time for the knowledge to stick. By using a phased approach to employee onboarding, employees can acclimate to the change slowly. The task demand will seem smaller, and employees will feel more confident that they can use digital tools effectively.

The Big Picture

The most detailed training around a business transformation won’t accomplish much if employees aren’t motivated to change. Employees won’t be invested without first understanding why and how it benefits them. Ultimately, that’s the goal of change management: transforming your business to improve a product, service, or process. But, success comes down to planning.

It’s important to remember that technology and process changes are tools to drive larger goals. For our banking client, their goals were realized through a meticulously planned employee onboarding program. But, these lessons apply to the broader scope of learning and development. How can you better use motivation to support your corporate training initiatives?