Aligning your organisation around digital transformation takes more than bombarding people with facts and figures. You need to explain how your new strategy will improve business so that your employees believe in your company’s goals and commit to achieving them, what’s at stake if this fails, how the change is within their reach, and crucially, what they stand to gain. Which is why it’s vital we start to reframe the dialogue around digital transformation. Give it a makeover if you like. Because unfortunately it currently has a serious image problem.
While it should be seen as a huge opportunity to reduce wasted time, boost job satisfaction, empower, and inspire, that’s often not the case. In fact, half of all workers who experienced an underperforming transformation believed that ‘transformation’ was just another word for ‘layoffs’. So, what should we be doing?
It’s vital we rewrite the script and empower employees with the proper training to stop seeing digital transformation as an encumbrance, or worse, a threat, and instead see it as a tool that can make them more effective, efficient, happy, and equip them with a digital mindset to thrive. Research supports this, with leaders who appeal to their teams on an emotional level being a whopping 260 percent more likely to guide them through a successful transformation than those who don’t.
And the best way to capitalise on this emotional connection? To embed digital transformation in clear, engaging stories.
Winning consensus through the art of storytelling
Before we even learn how to write, we express ourselves through stories. Why? Because stories are enjoyable; they stimulate imagination and generate emotion, and most people make decisions emotionally. They’re also much easier to remember than simple facts because when we hear stories, we imagine ourselves in them which produces the neurological chemical oxytocin which is connected to empathy, making it easier for the brain to store information in our long-term memory. Research from The London School of Business discovered that people retain only five to 10 percent of information if it consists of statistics alone but, when they hear a story, that figure jumps to a massive 70 percent.
To achieve successful, enduring digital transformation, your employees need to not only believe in your company’s goals but to actively commit to achieving them. This means not just telling a story that they can relate to, but one which they feel is within their reach and inspires them to be a better employee. They need to not only understand how your new strategy will improve business, but also the reality of what’s at stake if it fails, and crucially, what they stand to gain by achieving it. You can’t truly motivate your workforce if they don’t find an authentic personal connection to your goal so make them feel like they’re part of something bigger with enough of a pull to persuade them to overcome their fear of change and come along for the ride.
That’s not to say you won’t still come up against resistance but by involving your employees in the process and asking questions along the way you can leverage insights to misunderstandings, anticipate problems before they take root, and remove barriers to implementation. According to a 2022 study by Stier & Driggs, this proactive seeking out of dissenting voices reassures and empowers workers to speak up and share their views, whatever they may be.
Real-life examples, with emotional resonance, will help your audience understand why the strategy will work. For example, with our client, PepsiCo, we activated an integrated campaign rewarding its global workforce for interacting with Ada, its internal AI platform, driving a 98 percent increase in total logins and a 78 percent increase in unique users. This reinforced the idea that while having a fit-for-purpose intranet is vital in fostering greater collaboration and enhanced internal communications, only by ensuring that employees are motivated to use the platform could these benefits be realised. We achieved this by putting humans at the heart of the solution, ensuring everyone in the organisation shared an open mindset, a shared vision and was working towards the same goal.
If you want your employees to come to work every day committed to making your story real, they need to see and feel the victory on the other side of that risk and be inspired by what it will mean not only for the organisation and their customers, but for themselves, their families…and the world. When employees understand where their company is headed, how they contribute to that larger purpose, and how they’ll benefit, they’re much more likely to be engaged.
We know it’s a lot to think about. And they do say the hardest part of any story is knowing where to begin…
So, if you need some support to start telling stories that will resonate with your people, why not drop us a line at email@example.com and find out more?