As with any change, channel shift can elicit a fearful reaction in employees. Concerns ranging from loss of the human touch, suspicion of becoming too ‘commercial’ and possible reduction in quality of service are a natural response – and, if left unaddressed, can take root and undermine progress.
It’s essential to be proactive in addressing these fears to alleviate them, but it’s not enough to remove the blocker of resistance so indifference doesn’t count as a win. It’s the job of those leading digital transformation programmes to make the future post-change as appealing a prospect as possible. Remember that your channel shift initiatives will run much more smoothly if you can generate a sense of genuine excitement through a change in mindset and culture. Here are some pointers to help get employees onside.
Make a strong case for change
All employees want their organisation to be successful, so communicating why channel shift is needed to help achieve your organisational goals and strategies is essential. To make your case resonate enough to gain buy-in, you’ll need go deeper than making the topline business case.
Achieving the necessary change in mindset will require you to explain the relevance and meaning of channel shift to your employees as individuals. It’s all very well showcasing the facts and figures, but how can you get them to relate to the change personally?
Prime your team as to why channel shift is not only necessary and beneficial, but meaningful to them. It’s all about communicating the gains. For instance, channel shift is broadly about:
- Versatile and empowering solutions
- Reducing frustrations and time spent on dull, repetitive tasks
- More resource available for complex cases
- More capital to reinvest through cost savings
- Benefits to tenants: convenience, greater access choices, improved service
- User-friendly apps
This is just the first step, though. While employees will no doubt grasp these benefits, you also need to think about what will make a difference to them day to day, which leads us on to...
There will be key questions that will no doubt be shared across your teams, and the answers will vary from employee to employee. As an organisation, you’ll need to be ready to field typical concerns:
- Will my job role stay the same?
- Will I have the same manager?
- Will my team be restructured or even disbanded?
Don’t leave it to chance: managers must be prepared to address valid concerns in a transparent and timely way, otherwise the grapevine will do the work for you. When gossip and speculation are left to provide the answers, you can guarantee that employees will be left feeling insecure and open to negativity.
Transparency is the key: keep talking, be honest about the changes you expect to see in resource reallocation, team size and structure, and highlight the positives for individuals – more interesting work, training and acquiring new skills, for example. These will resonate more than benefits to the bottom line.
Enlist support from the top down
It’s not enough to have got the support of your Board and senior team, you need to be able to showcase their backing to help spread a sense of enthusiasm. How can you help this to take hold? There are many ways you can communicate the commitment to channel shift, such as:
- A “town hall” meeting to launch the initiative
- A regular channel shift column by a senior figure in your employee newsletter or intranet
- Updates on your intranet when milestones are reached (or missed!)
- Shoutouts highlighting individual achievements
- Creating digital champions throughout the organisation to share progress updates and good news formally and informally.
Channel shift shouldn’t be something that’s announced once and left to quietly run its course – it’s important to make everyone feel that they know enough about how it’s progressing at any given time. Being well-informed rather than ‘in the dark’ creates a sense of security that will help individuals adjust gradually in advance of any major changes.
Ask for input
As with any change management programme, one-way communications will only get you so far. If you can make your team feel inherently motivated, not only will they embrace channel shift, they will even want to see it move faster. That can only happen if you create the opportunities for them to ask questions, make suggestions and help test as you progress through your channel shift programme.
Two-way activities where employees can feel fully engaged with channel shift at various stages of your initiatives include:
- Brainstorming sessions
- Mapping desired outcomes or design requirements,
- Joining a project communication or culture team
- Carrying out benchmarking research
- Identifying the impacts of the change
- Feeding into sustainment strategies
- Designing training
Adapting to change takes time: by allowing employees to not only understand the why but input to the channel shift itself, they will feel intrinsically inclined to get behind what you’re trying to achieve at an organisational level. Make employee engagement a priority early on, allow individuals to adapt at their own rate, and your channel shift will become a period of excitement rather than one fraught with passive negativity.
For more channel shift tips and advice, download our guide How to prioritise, action and measure your digital transformation programme