Digital transformation efforts are a necessity for remaining viable in the ever-changing world of work. But despite their criticality, most transformation efforts are failing. According to research, a staggering 70% of complex, large-scale change programs are not reaching their stated goals. 

The common pitfalls include a lack of employee engagement, inadequate management support, poor or non-existent cross-functional collaboration, and a lack of accountability. And in order for a transformation program to be sustained in the long haul, a major reset in minds and behaviours is required - something that few leaders know how to achieve. 

As many have found out, creating processes, implementing digital tools and workflows is the easy part - it’s changing the people that can be hard. And at the heart of that is communication - which can quickly deteriorate if not handled with care. 

The symptoms of communication breakdown include lack of faith in what is said, information overload, inability to find the required info, and a sense of confusion over the correct piece of information to refer to. Organisations must be able to get the right message to the right people, at the right time. Follow these 4 tips to equip yourself to overcome such obstacles and move towards digital transformation success. 

  1. Create a shared common purpose

It’s important to understand why you’re making these changes and keep this front of focus. Communicating the inspiration to your employees and wider network will make sure everyone understands what the goal is and why digital transformation is necessary. The people that make up your organisation will no doubt be affected by the changes, so communicate exactly how it will be impacting them. Emphasising that the value of these changes will not only be for the business, but for people on an individual level will mean they are more likely to be on board.

  1. Remember communication is a process, not an event

Have you ever heard of the terms “Marketing Funnel” or  “Sales Pipeline”? Onboarding a new client or selling to a new customer is a crafted journey with many personalised touch points. Messages will be tailored depending on the customer and where they’re positioned in those funnels and pipelines. 

Treat the communication you deliver surrounding digital transformation as a journey in the same respect, except your employees and network have become your customers that you have to convince to buy into the change. Think about their different points of view and challenges each member might have and address them sensitively. Ask them about their own concerns and be open to questions. Provide evidence and case studies for inspiration to reinforce your message at appropriate points. 

  1. Cut through the clutter

Make sure the information you communicate first is digestible and that you’re not overwhelming anyone. Embed your message into their day-to-day work experiences to keep it relevant, otherwise it may be ignored due to time constraints and the decreasing bandwidths of attention spans. 

If sending emails, try to name your emails descriptively and avoid spelling errors. If it's a series of emails - number them. Version control is also very important, date your documents and number them.

Each day, the average office worker receives 121 emails. It’s fair to say, they might already be experiencing information overload. Deliver the information they need in a succinct format. Think about the different communication channels you could utilise and what would be most appropriate e.g. social media channels, video or even interactive experiences.

Consider carefully what you're saying and how you say it - do they need to know everything?  Or only the most important part? Sometimes less is more and will get a better response. For example, is it necessary to send an email with a 22 page report attached explaining what will happen and why? Or can you sum it up in a 5 minute phone call and follow up with the report on request? 

  1. Measure your data and iterate 

How will you gauge whether or not your message gets through and who’s on board with your digital transformation program? The only way to do this is to measure the audience engagement, feedback and response you get and adjust accordingly. 

You can do this quantitatively via engagement metrics such as recording what messages get opened, what digital content gets viewed and how audiences interactions differ by subgroups.  You can make qualitative data based on their perceptions of the information provided by quick and simple polls to ask for feedback in real-time. 

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Beyond implementing a new tool or process is creating a culture and communication structure that is ready, willing and able to adapt to any change. At the end of the day, the rate of change in industry is only going to build momentum. At the core of successful change is effective communication. Implementing the right strategy for this is what will position your organisation to be more agile, proactive and ready to come out on top of whatever challenge or opportunity comes it’s way. 

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