Without a solid foundation based on organizational culture, no digital transformation can be successful. Culture provides the firm, steady and solid foundation that helps grow in good times and likewise weather the tough times. The creation and ongoing maintenance of organizational culture should be an executive priority and something that leadership and company performance should be measured against.
So, where does a company looking to “digitally transform” itself, start?
It is critical that an organization focuses on building a positive culture. This isn’t always easy, especially with the retail market always shifting due to ever-changing consumer behavior. Therefore, it is critical that you develop strong channels of communication across the business. And these channels are not just for “fire drills” or actual emergencies, but rather serve as incredible ways to enhance the employee experience for daily use. Because, in today’s world, it is all about the customer experience. And who is tasked with delivering on your customer experience? Your employees.
Those in leadership roles having visibility to every facet of the business is just as critical as the free flow of information to those delivering on the customer experience. Smart executive leaders will be in touch with their employee base on a regular basis. This may involve roundtables, employee and engagement surveys, and local site visits.Therefore, providing seamless communication to your enterprise so the information needed by employees is readily available for them to build the connections they need to feel empowered. When this is done right, when employees are connected to the organization, even when conditions are not favorable, employees will continue to tune to the channels in place to get the necessary information to weather the storm.
In larger organizations, regular visits may become a logistical challenge, leading organizations to look at employee engagement tools to get ‘in front’ of employees—even if it means virtually—and also get in front of issues as they arise. For example, a simple smartphone can capture high-quality video to then be distributed quickly across the aforementioned communication channels. Therefore, it is key that leaders look for a way to get in front of a camera and do so often to ensure their voice and leadership can effectively guide the organization.
Switching gears slightly, it is just as important to create a comfortable work environment, wherever that may be so that your employees can produce their best work. If that means a more relaxed dress code, a more flexible PTO schedule, or even the ability to work unique work schedule, an organization can quickly and easily build positive culture by focusing on the employee – in other words, focus on the quality and delivery of work versus the hours spent in the office.
When culture is thriving, it is easy to push your teams to overachieve. In an ideal world, no one wants to be doing the same exact thing next year that they did the previous one. People want to feel that they are improving, growing, developing new skills, and advancing. With clear communication, expectations can be set in a way that people can easily see them and push to achieve them.
However, as an enterprise leader, you should always aim to keep these efforts within reason and ensure that people are given the opportunity to communicate and likewise gain feedback. High performers want to be challenged and likewise want to work with others who push themselves too. Teach your mid-level leaders to understand this concept and train them to work with their teams to find the right balance between expectations and unrealistic targets.
Finally, it is crucial to remain consistent. While goals change and evolve to meet market and customer demands, don’t confuse being responsive with being consistent. If you expect high performance from one person, expect it from everyone. No matter what your goals are, and even when they change, you need to remain consistent in your approach to how the organization will achieve the goals. Being consistent will inspire confidence and trust from your teams. This furthers the development of positive culture because people know what to expect and they will likewise trust the process and the organization. An increased sense of trust within your organization makes what some may deem difficult, like a successful digital transformation, a seamless process, simply because of your employees being ensured of the long-term viability of your business.