22 Feb Build an open culture to encourage business transformation
We often frame business transformation in terms of ‘people, process, technology’. We put ‘people’ first for a reason. The process of transformation starts with people – with a mindset shift. A shift away from sticking with what works and towards what could be.
Beginning this journey can be daunting. In a recent report by Microsoft, it was revealed that almost half of UK business leaders find that employees express a fear of change when business transformation begins.
On top of this, more than a quarter (28%) of UK leaders surveyed claim digital transformation generates resistance from employees while just over a third surveyed (34%) think it will lead to older generations of workers getting left behind. That’s more than the number who believe it will be mainly a force for good (31%).
Our vision is to empower every person and every organisation to embrace business transformation. But in order to do this, leaders may have to push themselves and their employees out of their comfort zones.
How best to do this? Carol Dweck of Stanford University explains. ‘Some people are afraid to use technology, they want to keep their old skills as long as possible. It’s vital to shift the ethos to an idea of shared struggle, where mistakes are inevitable and your team members have got your back.’
How to embrace fear
Having an open culture – one that encourages people to be open about the challenges they are facing and the concerns they may have – helps teams identify the issues that stand in their way. Once the issues are on the table, you can find solutions.
A failure-accepting, risk-free culture has to be driven from the top. When employees see leaders inviting experimentation and being tolerant of unexpected setbacks, they will follow suit. Here are five steps you can take in your organisation to embrace, rather than shy away from, what you fear:
Communicate clearly and authentically
Be clear and transparent about what you are doing and why you’re doing it. Highlight the benefits to employees alongside benefits to the business. And try to bring the changes you want to see to life through personal stories, rather than buzzwords that might turn people off.
Lead by example
Be clear that you welcome experimentation and are accepting of failure on the path to success. Show this through words but also through your actions.
Give teams time and space
Be proactive in allowing teams the time and space to experiment, so they feel engaged in finding solutions and new ways of working with digital technologies and don’t revert back to old ways of working due to time pressure.
Be understanding and flexible
Be empathetic and flexible, rather than rule driven. Empathic leadership promotes a sense of team and increases productivity, morale and loyalty.
Encourage employees to team up and put processes in place that foster a culture of dialogue, conversation and feedback, as opposed to imposing ways of working on people.
An open culture is something we also encourage in our client relationships – and we design our solutions with this in mind. In 2016 we worked with global recruitment firm, Rethink Group, to introduce a new IT infrastructure and managed print services that reduced overall IT costs by 40%.
Not only did we design the technical solution, we also designed a reporting framework that highlighted pain points in order to resolve them quickly. Tim Jacob, Operations Director, explains. “One of the things that Ricoh were able to demonstrate was that they had a really good way of engaging with users… that involved things like regular reporting, metrics on how the service was performing, detail on where issues were coming up and what was being done to fix them.”
Change isn’t always easy. There are likely to be challenges along the way. An open culture can help surface these challenges early on and find solutions, before they become mission-critical.