5 Steps to Help Employees Keep Pace with Digital Transformation

October 17, 2017

By Carla Johnson

Every industry teeters on the verge of disruption. If you work in technology, there’s always the threat of someone younger and more nimble who can dethrone you. If you’re in an industry like financial services or healthcare, other companies may find a better way to maneuver these highly regulated industries and you’re out in the cold overnight.

Digital transformation isn’t something that companies do. The people who make digital transformation happen are the employees who work for a company. An article in the Harvard Business Review looked at the five steps it takes to organize your workforce around what customers expect and need as part of a connected experience. While they focus on consumer package goods (CPG), they share insights that apply to any company in any industry.

1.  Commit from the top

New mindsets have to come from leaders at the top of an organization. Executives have to understand what digital transformation means to the business, why and how to change their mindset about the work that needs to be done. And then they, personally, need to roll up their sleeves and dig into the digital side of work. Success comes because employees see the top team walking the talk, not taking a “do as I say, not as I do,” approach to transformation.

2.  Give employees direct access to customers

The only way to become a customer-centric company is to deeply understand customers. You’ll never be able to deduce everything you need to know about customers by collecting data and analytics. You need to bring internal teams closer to customers through face-to-face conversations plus social listening, research and smart journey mapping.

3.  Help employees embrace agility.

Everyone needs a little help from time to time, and employees are no different. Agility is key to making things work with digital transformation. Customers change at a faster pace, which means employees have to change even faster. But like a rubber band, if you stretch an employee too far too fast, they’ll break. Help them keep tabs on the customer pulse so they see what needs to change, rather than what they want to change because it’s the easiest.

4.  Invest in employee experience design.

Experience design isn’t just for external audiences. Some companies are tapping user experience design to rethink the experiences they’re serving up to employees. With multiple generations in the workforce with different priorities and outlooks on work, we need to be as flexible with how we engage and motivate employees just like we are with customers.

5.  Invest in lifelong learning

The pace of change is picking up in every industry. That means employees have to marry learning and doing by continually updating their skills. Whether it’s through formal education or informal mentoring and online communities, every employees needs to be aware of how customer interactions are changing and how they can take inspiration from personal experiences and bring that back into their work.

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About Carla Johnson


Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.

Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands has served as the foundation for many of her books.

In her latest project, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds -  Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking. 

Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.