Digital Transformation is well underway for many companies. But are your people ready?

Digital Transformation is well underway for many companies. But are your people ready?
Edward Matti

Author: Edward Matti

Title: Managing Partner

The question is no longer whether digital transformation is coming or not, but rather, how will the people within our organizations approach this transformation?

No matter how great your cloud services or business platforms are, as with every transformation, the focus is on individual employees. And in order for employees to shape your organizational transformation, we have to understand their varying perspectives and preparedness.

Oftentimes, we have digital pioneers in the company whose potential remains untapped. At the same time, we have digital novices, whom are left behind and feel somewhat lost…so much so, they end up fighting the transformation and slowing down change. 

Meet Eli...
Eli, a senior employee with years of service, works at a firm that introduced a new collaboration platform 6 months ago. Eli was rather critical of this platform and its introduction, and quite vocal about it. According to him, the disadvantages far outweighed the advantages. He felt there was a danger that cooperation would actually become less efficient and effective as a result of this change. 

Eli’s criticism isn’t timely either, as the new platform had already been purchased and in the implementation phase, so the company’s focus was on encouraging all employees to use the platform.

So how does management deal with Eli’s criticism in a constructive manner, and why is it important to do so?

Meet Manal, Eli’s Line Manager…
Manal has known Elias for some time and was a little surprised at Eli’s resistance. They both “grew up” with digital products, and have easily coped and adopted technological changes. While Manal has been passionate about the platform since its launch, Eli seems to raise concerns that prevent him for even giving the platform a chance.

Rather than ignoring Eli, Manal encouraged him to voice his concerns and systematically record them. Eli appreciated his boss’ efforts that felt that he was being taken seriously. 

In the meantime, Manal had raised this concern at their leadership meeting, and it seems that other managers were facing varying degrees of adoption and/or resistance. Manal took the initiative to reach out to find out how we can help the organization in dealing with this (and other platform launches anticipated in their digital transformation journey).

When Manal came to see us, we asked her a rather simple, yet seemingly complex, question: “What is Eli’s Digital Transformation Persona?” Needless to say, she had no response. And who can blame her?

So what is a Digital Transformation Persona?
Personas are fictitious characters that summarize complex behaviors, needs and potentials in such a way that they produce a realistic picture. A real person seldom corresponds 100% to a formulated persona. Instead, the added value lies in the fact that the confusing amount of characteristics becomes more tangible. In the end, a real person can consist of the traits of several personas.

Our colleagues in Germany have developed the Digital Transformation Personas on the basis of two dimensions: Trust in digitization and Digital Skills. The Digital Transformation Personas describe six different groups of employees facing the challenge of digital transformation.

Each of the six prototypical Digital Transformation Personas encompasses a cluster of individuals with similar behavioral patterns. The employees grouped as personas are similar in their decision-making, use of technology, communication channels, motivation and attitudes to change.

These types are largely independent of age, gender, education and other typical demographic factors. There's no one persona that is better or worse than any other. Rather, the personas reflect the fact that employees have different needs and expectations. Therefore, in the course of digitization, managers need different measures to accompany each person in his or her development.

The use of personas helps to step out of one's own perspective - especially managers and Human Resource professionals – so that we can better understand the needs and expectations of our individual employees. Through a better understanding, person-related learning measures can be developed and cultural organizational development can be achieved.

If the individual personas are promoted and supported according to their needs and expectations, each employee can make a contribution to the digital transformation and support the company through change.

The Results for Manal and Eli
We mapped out a learning experience to help all employees and leaders manage the adoption of the new platform, which included employee workshops and assessments. With Manal’s support, Eli learned to formulate more constructive opinions and set his own adoption pace. Moreover, Manal (and other Managers) was able to manage her team on an individual and collective basis, supporting those that need a little more guidance, and leveraging those that fully adopted the platform.

Our Approach
We have developed five formats – employee workshops, manager learning journeys, self and external assessments, focus groups, and quantitative surveys – to help employees and leaders better understand their own Trust in Digitization and their Digital Skills.

Whether you've kicked off your Digital Transformation or just about to, you may want to pause for a moment and consider your people's needs, expectations and adaptability. Find out what their Digital Transformation Personas are, and how you can be better prepared. After all, such a transformation is considered a major change, and your teams are the ones carrying it out.
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