How to get employees to buy into digital transformation

July 15, 2020
Amanda Del Buono interviews Jonathon Hensley, founder and CEO of Emerge Interactive

Digitalization relies on a workforce that's willing to accept the change. Here, Amanda Del Buono interviews Jonathon Hensley, founder and CEO of Emerge Interactive, a company that assists organizations in achieving digital transformation to discuss how manufacturers can bridge that gap and gain buy-in to digital transformation from their employees. The following is an excerpt from their discussion. Read the full transcript here.

Learn more about Jonathon’s new book, “Alignment”:

Amanda: Well, I guess, as we're talking about these new technologies, well, as you just mentioned, not necessarily new, but, you know, bringing these into a facility, one of the things about humanity that's always interesting to me is our resistance to change. And I think we see with technology, I mean, that happens when new technologies come out in the consumer world too, right? People don't necessarily buy into that. For an organization that's trying to, especially right now, get some digital transformation in place quickly, what suggestions do you have for getting their teams to buy into this? Because I think, with any kind of new technology anywhere you have to have the people running it bought in, right? So, when you're trying to push this through quickly, what do you suggest for helping your team get comfortable with it and buying into this new change in what could have been a less digitally-savvy environment?

Jonathon: Sure. Well, I think there's a couple of really important things that have to happen at all levels of the organization. The first is the importance of clarity. Clarity becomes mission-critical for every level of the organization and really being able to embrace change and understanding why it's important. And that has to come up from leadership. Leadership has to understand, "Here's our current state of our organization. Here's where we want to be. And we have a clear destination and vision of what that looks like.” And the next step in that is to make this change, to do these things as an organization.

Once you have that, you can go deeper, you can start to work on one of the most fundamentally important things, which is alignment. And you can help every employee at an individual level understand the importance of that change and how their contribution will make a difference to helping the organization get to that goal and achieve that strategy. That becomes really important, that's empowerment. That empowerment allows people to start to embrace change, and that clarity gives them a path to purpose to understanding what that change and successful change will look like. And that really helps people start to overcome some of the fears and anxieties that come with change. So, we need to start there.

Secondarily, we really need to look at team alignment and how do we bring the right skills, disciplines and cross-functional teams together to work on this change. A lot of times, change is started with an idea, and that idea ends up getting kind of siloed within a project team, and digital transformation really requires us to break down the silos. We have to look at, are we modernizing our customer experience, are we transforming our operation? If so, what are all the interdependent functions of our business, and how do we effectively collaborate together through that change? And that's usually pretty loosely defined.

More often than not, it's, "Oh, well, our team will figure it out. They're great people. They have the skills and knowledge, or they'll go get the knowledge that they need to make this thing happen." And it's true, the people are fantastic, but if they don't have that bigger strategy and that really clear understanding of what the objectives are, you get a lot of rework, and a lot of false starts, and things where you're just not making progress, and you feel like you're failing because you're not making that progress. And organizational leaders really need to take responsibility to champion that change and address those gaps that are missing that lead to product failure and transformational failure.

Read the full transcript.

About the Author

Manufacturing Tomorrow's Workforce | Manufacturing Tomorrow's Workforce