It’s no secret. Without an effective change management strategy, you can’t have a successful digital transformation. While this reality is widely known, many change management initiatives fail, leaving their broader digital transformations to flounder.
If you’re struggling with change management, it’s not just you. According to Gartner, “change fatigue” is at an all-time high. Their 2022 survey discovered that:
- 74% of employees were willing to support organizational change in 2016, but in 2022, only 38% said the same.
- Only 43% of employees who experience above-average change fatigue intend to stay with their organization, compared to 74% of employees with low levels of change fatigue.
The world has changed substantially since 2016, bringing about a whirlwind of change, from a global pandemic to rising economic uncertainty. With these stresses and others mounting at home, it’s no wonder why a drastic change at work could spark resistance.
In these challenging times, employees want to feel valued. 82% of workers say it’s important for their organization to see them as a person, not just an employee.
The trouble is that too many organizations take a top-down approach to change management. Unfortunately, this approach is anything but personal. Here, leaders set the strategy, own planning and deployment, and communication is a one-way street. As a result, employees take the backseat and feel like an afterthought.
It’s time to rethink our approach to change management—cue the open-source change management strategy.
What is the Open-Source Change Management Strategy?
Hailed by Gartner as a promising “ticket to change management success,” the open-source change management strategy takes an engaging, transparent, and people-focused approach. This approach encourages collaboration and directly involves employees at every step of the digital transformation process. As a result, you can decrease change fatigue, increase employee buy-in, and support employees through uncertainty.
To back the hype, Gartner’s study found that organizations that implement open-source change management strategies:
- Are 14x times more likely to achieve change success
- Enjoy a 29% reduction in the risk of change fatigue
- Retain more staff, with a 19% increase in employees’ intent to stay with the company
Want in? Here are the three steps to adopting an open-source change management strategy.
How to Adopt an Open-Source Change Management Strategy in 3 Steps
1. Get Employee Input in Decision Making
This step alone increases change success by 15%. So, although it’s not always easy to involve the right people at the right time under the right circumstances, it’s well worth the effort.
The most effective way to involve employees in decision-making is to create a meritocracy. To accomplish this, assemble small groups of employees to discuss current problems, why change is needed, and brainstorm possible solutions. Choose group members based on the topic at hand. Then, comb through each step of the process and note who directly and indirectly interacts with them or has relevant knowledge.
For example, if you’re looking to improve your AP processes, you might select employees from your AP department, from upper-level staff like your AP manager to entry-level AP employees. Then, you might include an IT team member with experience supporting your current AP solutions. If you know of other staff outside of AP who interact with vendors and customers regularly, they might be able to offer insights into the customer experience.
By giving a diverse array of perspectives a voice, you increase your odds that the best ideas will rise to the top and become a reality, no matter who they come from. And the employees who pitched in will also be more receptive to the idea of change since you gave them an influential role early on. Seeing their and their peers’ ideas come to life will bring new excitement.
2. Give Employees a Role in Planning
While it may feel natural to have leaders take on implementation planning, excluding your staff can lead to increased resistance, lower cooperation, and overwhelm. When you take on an open-source change management strategy, you allow employees to own implementation planning.
This may sound scary, but it’s a tried-and-true method: Gartner’s study found that when employees take the lead on implementation planning, change success increases by 24% and increases the odds of the change being sustainable and well-received.
But just because you’re handing the reigns over to your staff doesn’t mean you lose all structure and control. For example, you might give your team a template that maps out the “from-to,” the “because,” and the desired results. Then, encourage them to fill in their “dos and don’ts” based on their daily workflows to create realistic timelines and milestones. And since you trusted them with this crucial step and respected their daily workflows, they will feel empowered to own the change. It may even accelerate user adoption when the time comes.
3. Make Communication a Two-Way Street
Open, two-way communication and ongoing honest conversations are critical to change success. Throughout your project, update employees on the ups and downs. Doing so will shut down rumors and dispel feelings of mistrust and doubt. Spotlighting the bad news and the good also helps reaffirm to employees that failure is okay, a value essential to building an innovative culture.
To provide these opportunities, you may consider:
- Virtual town halls that feature a Q&A segment using a question submission and voting mechanism. This way, the issues employees care about most will be covered, and they will feel heard.
- Establish a dedicated email address for submitting feedback.
- Conduct 1-on-1 employee interviews or small group feedback sessions.
- Create surveys.
- Involve your Internal Communications Team to find opportunities to improve employee engagement surrounding digital transformation. They can facilitate a dedicated newsletter or a column in the regular company newsletter.
When employees are informed and have outlets to share their questions and opinions, their understanding increases, and they feel like key players in the initiative.
Give Your Employees a Seat at the Table
Digital transformation affects your entire company, so the people within it should be front and center from start to finish. Your initiative’s success relies on engaged, informed, happy employees. To achieve this, opt for an open-source approach to change by involving employees in decisions, planning, and communication.
Take These Tips to the Next Level
In addition to involving employees in decisions, planning, and communication, you must create a positive overall employee experience. Get five actionable steps to support your digital transformation’s most valuable asset: Your employees.
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