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When you see the phrase ‘digital transformation’, it’s important to look beyond the digitalisation side of things. Don’t forget about the transformation, which requires a cultural shift. In other words, it’s only truly digital transformation if you have a digital culture first.

Why a digital-first culture matters

Digital transformation can tectonically change the way people perform certain tasks and activities. This can even extend to the way they interact with other individuals - within or outside of your organisation. That’s why a digital-first culture matters.

You need a culture that’s willing to accept and support the transformation (or change, depending on the extent to which the organisation is transformed).

Prioritise culture, mindset alignment, stakeholder engagement and all of the other aspects that add up to a change management strategy…and you can benefit from:

  • Accelerated decision making - the right digital mindset and technology empowers people to make on-the-spot yet well-informed decisions
  • Results delivered faster - when people have the right information at the right time, the organisation can move faster
  • More and better talent - people are drawn to digital leaders due to the promise of cross-departmental and hierarchal collaboration and greater autonomy

All in all, your transformation initiative stands a much better chance of success. But how can you create this culture? How do you manage resistance to change in order to begin creating this digital-first culture?

4 tips to managing resistance to change

Change management processPhoto by Diva Plavalaguna 

1. Expect resistance

Even if the solution appears to be the most ideal improvement to a problem, always expect resistance. Why? Because people don’t like change. Even if it’s what’s best for them and/or they’ve been asking for it for a while!

So, expect resistance and take it into consideration during your change management preparation stages. For example, try to pinpoint areas where you’re most likely going to see resistance. And in what forms might it take? This can help you deal with the resistance quicker and before it impacts the project.

2. Apply change management early on and following a structured plan

Resistance and its impact on a transformation initiative can be avoided if effective change management is applied early on in the project. Resistance is normal - it’s human nature to be wary of change - but effectively applying change management tactics can help with mitigation.

This can include:

  • Planning for the change by understanding the business context and project agenda
  • Engaging your key stakeholders by aligning their mindsets and building awareness across the business as the initiative progresses (this includes addressing the ‘what’s in it for me’)
  • Assessing the impact of the change by working with your key stakeholders to understand the change and what it means for your organisation
  • Creating change journeys and plans - these should be tailored to each impacted group of stakeholders
  • Building the ideal change management team that’s a mixture of internal and external resources

Learn more about the change management roadmap Columbus recommends by clicking the button below.

Read the roadmap

3. Identify the root causes of resistance

Change management shouldn’t just focus on the symptoms. To truly manage resistance, you must dig into the root cause(s). It’s about understanding why someone is resisting, not how that resistance is manifesting.

So, what’s causing your stakeholders to feel this way? What’s actually the problem here?

Speak to your stakeholders and identify:

  • Their motivations - what drives them?
  • Their pain points - what challenges are they experiencing?
  • Their fears - what are they afraid of?

Léon de Caluwé and Hans Vermaak’s Colours of Change may help you better understand your individual stakeholders’ ways of handling change. Additionally, the Prosci ADKAR® Model can help you identify and address your stakeholders’ root causes for resistance.

4. Engage and empower your key stakeholders

When it comes to managing resistance to change, the people you need on your side are your leadership and senior management. Think along the lines of C-suite, directors, managers and supervisors.

It’s a top-down approach - your leadership and senior management are the ones who can mitigate resistance by:

  • Demonstrating their commitment to change
  • Making a compelling case that supports the need for change
  • Showing how much they support the change

The more engaged your organisation’s leaders are, the more likely everyone else is to follow suit.

How to manage resistance to changePhoto by Andrea Piacquadio

Effective change management is integral to a successful digital transformation

Attitude and mindset are key to any kind of transformation, whether it’s personal or business-related. In the case of a business-related digital transformation, that applies to the nth degree. After all, there are various parties involved and the changes can be tectonic in nature.

The sooner you acknowledge and tackle this, the more likely your transformation is to achieve the outcome(s) you intended.

To ensure you’re following a structured change management plan, why not download our checklist? Based on our roadmap, it includes the key steps you should cover from planning for change all the way and creating your change management team through to executing the project.

Download the organisational change guide

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