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Nudge, plead or beg? How do you really influence behavior change?

Tony Colon Profile picture for user tcolon September 17, 2018
Digital transformation needs leadership and user buy-in. Salesforce's Tony Colon offers some advice on how to pull it off.

Carrot and stick
While it can be easy to focus solely on the technology when going through a digital transformation project, success will only come if you make sure your workforce is prepared to embrace change. You can’t expect your teams to evolve with you; this type of thinking must be cultivated.

Ultimately, without unifying and educating the whole business, people will more than likely give into the all-too-human impulse to resist change, leading to the failure of your transformation project - or a less-than-stellar ROI.

However, efficient planning can ensure that teams across your organization get on board with transformation and, crucially, go out and use the new technology in the way you intended. To achieve true buy-in, they must see how this change can actually help them in their work, and more importantly, can set them up for success in their role and maybe even to their overall career.

Move as one

Technology implementation and adoption - both from a process as well as a software perspective - must happen across the entire organization at the same time, rather than in a piecemeal fashion, and any cultural blockers to that implementation and adoption have to be addressed up front. Senior leaders have to support full transparency and even humility in the approach - because at the end of the day, you need their alignment and loyalty to the cause. Overall, the entire culture of the business must evolve as one in order to ensure full adoption.

If delivery and communication aren’t seamless, this can lead to some teams feeling left behind or alienated. Surely, they might think, this project can’t be that important for the way we work if we’re not in the first wave. Going forward together sends the message that everyone is equally important to the overall culture of the business, encouraging employees to contribute to making the transition a success.

Don’t be afraid of incentives, either. While unity must be encouraged, when done correctly it doesn’t hurt to challenge teams to compete to champion a new tool or message. Research suggests that 63% of employees feel they don’t get enough praise, so a reward system for adoption could have a big impact.

There’s no question: the impact of non-adoption can significantly derail or even destroy your transformation project and goals. When multiple users within an organization choose to move outside of the prescribed technology and rely on the old ways of doing business, there’s no benefit to the new system, no matter how good it might be. Also, when people circumvent the technologies and systems in play, the customer and other data in the system won’t be accurate - and no matter how good the software or process, bad data inevitably results in failure to meet customer expectations.

Help people own the change

To build real enthusiasm for transformation, employees must be encouraged to engage with these new processes. Putting on innovation events, hackathons, or other workshops will allow teams to explore new tools and see how they can improve their roles.

This helps communicate that change is a positive force that will enhance the work your teams are doing, rather than just something new that is being imposed and has to be gotten used to. Providing interactive sessions will allow teams to take ownership of new tools and processes, finding ways to harness their benefits. Without this freedom, teams are more likely to see new additions as something they have to conform to, rather than a new arrow in their quiver.

Now is the time to really focus on engagement; 90% of leaders believe that engagement strategies have an impact on business success, but less than 25% of them actually have any strategies in place. And culture is a lever which requires a strategy as well as a thoughtful execution plan. It doesn’t develop overnight. It requires care and tending to cultivate the right attitude and approach on every level of the organization.

Mix up the messengers

The rallying call for change can’t always come from the same person. Bringing in experts and digital evangelists to put on talks or seminars is important — a fresh voice makes a world of difference for getting a message across, and it will feel less like instruction from the top. This is also a prime opportunity to help a workforce shed its legacy mindset and to see that they are the spearhead in digital transformation progress.

For maximum impact, combine this with interactive learning. Seminars allow your teams to get up close with new approaches or tools, while simultaneously receiving tailored guidance from experts.

To equip your workforce with the necessary skills for the future, Trailhead modules provide a streamlined method for employees of all levels to access new ideas and topics, from analytics to aligning with your manager.

Leaders living the culture

Finally, you as a leader must show the way. Embody change in everything you do, and adopt the new cultures and processes wholeheartedly. People will follow you, and your example will ensure that the right skills are delivered and that knowledge is provided to enable your teams to develop along with the technology.

Pointing out the importance of leadership may not seem like a revelation, but it’s paramount for navigating digital transformation, which requires full participation for success. Practicing what you preach is vital to support the message that everyone is in it together.

Learn more about how digital transformation can really create significant change, and more importantly, create a culture of success for your business, please watch or attend the Success Cloud keynote at Dreamforce in person at 3pm PST Thursday, 27 September.

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