Digital Transformation : “what’s in it for me ? “

Digital transformation is a change process like any other and follows established rules and principles. There’s a point where the major concern is about making employees onboarding and buying-in.

At this moment, there’s a prevailing principle to apply : “what’s in it for me”. What means “how will I benefit from digital transformation as an employee”. “How will it make me successful”. Every business know how important it is even if the concept is sometimes used awkwardly : it’s too often about the benefits for the company, with the assumption that employees will think that what’s good for the company is goof for them. That’s wrong. Of course there must be benefits for the company, otherwise nothing would be done, but a personal benefit for the employee in the context of his job is also necessary.

That’s not because something is good for the business that employees think it’s good for them

I mean employees in the broad sense : I often had to work in the past on the “what’s in it for me for top managers, leaders, C-suite members that are sometimes as lost as anyone else even if they don’t show it. And if these people can’t see any benefit for them, there’s very little hope that they will credibly explain others what’s in it for them.

By the way, with regards to digital transformation, a triple “what’s in it for me” is needed : for the customer, the company and the employee. Should one of these lack and the whole initiative will struggle. But this post is about the employee.

So a value proposition is built for the employee. “Our project will help you to…”. Here lies a first trap which is to believe that better executing the company’s strategy is a good argument if this strategy is not understood and shared.

“Our ambition is to better serve our customers and with the help of…you’ll be able to….now it’s up to you”. How many employees  went desperate by hearing such stands ? As a matter of fact they may be pleased to know they have a big role to play in a new strategy, provided this strategy is understood. But there’s something missing : how ?. The “how” is even all the more important that employees work close to the customer.

The double “what’s in it for me” of digital transformation

Employees have two expectations that are not always understood.

The first is related to the company’s strategy and is about the benefit for the employee. It’s a known issue even if not always well addressed.

The second relates to the transformation program. What’s in the plan that will help me to put change at work, change my day to day life at work. This part is usually very poorly addressed.

Digital Transformation : a big focus on awareness, very little empowerment

What employees say today is “what’s done to help me ?. We have applications for the customer, I have new processes to follow, but what’s don to help me with my mission”. While everything is done to make the customer journer easier, very little is done to make things easier for the employee in front of the customer. What has three consequences :

• A deceiving experience for the customer

• Frustration for the employee

• A corporate strategy that “does not land” on the field

Today, transformation programs are mainly about acculturation and awareness. That’s indispensable and mandatory, but that’s only the first step.

What employees need and expect is empowerment. That’s to say

• Tools to serve them

• Trainings on how to act and behave

• New processes if needed

• A clear redefinition of their job, goals, and everything necessary in terms of training to adapt.

The problem with digital transformation is the “how”. The most important “what’s in it for me” is not the benefit but the “what’s in the toolbox for me”.

Benefits of change and benefits of the change program are not the same thing

The digital transformation program toolbox must embed things to :

• Help people to change

• Equip them once they’ve changed.

There’s a long way to go and, meanwhile, the employee’s only response to digital transformation is “ok…but what do I do tomorrow at work”.

Employees want to understand the benefits of change and what’s for them in the transformation program that comes with change. These are two different things.

Image Credit  : Fear by eelnosiva via shutterstock

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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