The importance of people management in digital transformation


When going through a digital transformation, communication and manager/employee relationship is the most critical element for the project adoption. I always say that we, sometimes, need to do more people management than technology management. This is where EQ is very important. Managers need to show that they care, and the communication line needs to stay very open.


Giving feedback and one-on-ones should be frequent. One-on-ones should be the opportunity to give feedback and to receive feedback. If the person is doing great, it is going to build her self-confidence and make her feel good. She can become a champion who will help push the transformation and convey the right message to others. If the person does less good, she will be able to readjust faster and we can help her understand better so that she makes her way faster in the right direction.

Knowing how to provide feedback is important. Here are some wrong ways of doing it:

· The ones who, no matter what rock star you might be, will only emphasize the employee's bad side and make it much bigger than it is, so in the end, the person just feels horrible.

· The ones, who will never tell the truth, so the employee actually never receives feedback.

· The ones, who are only seeing one perspective and who do not really know how the change is challenging for the person, so they cannot give accurate feedback.

· The ones, who will dump everything only once in a while and overwhelmed the employee who can start to worry even more.

· The ones, who only rely on rumors and are not capable of making their own judgment of what the employees are going through or who do not know how to balance others' points of view and theirs (either their point of view or others is overemphasized).

· The ones, who will dissect all every attitude, communication and anything which will make everybody uncomfortable.

Let’s focus on what matters and on the good things that are going on. Managers who are Winners stand firm on values but compromise on petty things; those who are losers stand firm on petty things but compromise on values. It is not about looking at people's weaknesses; it is about looking at their strengths that are going to have a great impact on the organization and the project.

We apply the following rules with people:

· Provide frequent feedback and react quickly when something is not how it should be. Address situations as fast as possible so that they get an opportunity to understand quickly and to adjust quickly.

· Do not make them feel guilty. Nobody is perfect, and neither are you so be empathic and tell them that we are all in this and we going to work with them on the issue.

· Recognize the changes and the improvements people make. Tend to always emphasize the positive.

· Do not get stuck on things that are not important. Everybody has their flaws. As long as it is temporary or is not a major disruption, do not even bother mentioning it. See the larger picture, not the details.

· Do not judge but rather listen, and help. Give people time. Some people will need more time to adjust and rally than others.

· Be true to your words, so they feel comfortable.

· Ask them also feedback about yourself and how you can do anything better for them. As managers, it is our responsibility to help them but to also improve on our side to make them be better.


When doing a transformation, the leader needs to be a real coach. What does that mean?

A coach implements a self-confidence environment and not a fear atmosphere. He creates a team spirit by bringing people together and not putting anybody on the side.

As leaders, it means staying next to our people and protecting them to give them time to become every day better. It is about accepting failure and helping to overcome the obstacle without judging. The leader does not point fingers.

As team members, it means following the coach and applying what he says. It means being behind him and trusting him. It means respecting him. It also means respecting each member of the team and to value what each member brings to the table. Everybody is here for a reason. A team is a family where we help each other. In hard times, we are all together facing the challenges.

Despite all these, if some will turn to be champions, others will never rally and this is when tough decisions need to be made. You cannot get negative attitudes to overwhelm the group. Everybody needs to evolve in the right direction and not rehash the difficulties, the past and drag the other’s morale down. We need to give time but for those not willing to get along, it means they do not belong to the new environment. Leaders need to spot these individuals, work with them until they are at a better place but do not lose precious time with those who will never evolve.


How the transformation is approached with the people can lead to success or failure even if the technology part is successful.


#digitaltransformation #peoplemanagement

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