The inspirational CIO: getting the workforce excited about change programs

post imageToday’s workplace is fast-paced, globalized, multimedia-driven and, in many cases, virtual. Face-to-face meetings are often exceptions rather than the norm. Conventional forms of employee engagement might not suffice in such unconventional settings. Employees are more multicultural, multigenerational and more active on social media than ever before. And by using social media, employers can gain insight and feedback, and also create a more engaged, productive workforce. Despite that, social media and collaboration technologies remain underused in businesses today.

According to EY research, 80% of enterprise change transformation programs fail. A common characteristic of all these failed initiatives is the lack of effective employee engagement. Without two-way dialogue, a commitment to participation and listening with intent, a successful adoption is at risk because employees’ ideas go unheard.

The CIO, as all their C-suite peers, can use social media to engage employees more effectively in large transformation projects. These projects usually impact workflow, business rules, technology strategy and even the corporate culture. Very often the goal of IT transformation is to change the IT department from being a reactive, inflexible organization to being a more proactive, flexible part of the business that can respond quickly to changing requirements. In some organizations, this might also mean changing the perception of end users from being a “problem” to being a “customer.”

The six-step approach

Here is a six-step approach the CIOs can adopt while using social media to engage teams working on large IT transformations:

1. Understand your audience: With primary communication channels evolving from emails to smartphones and microblogs, understanding your audience and how they prefer to receive information is critical to helping ensure messages are read and information is retained.

2. Search for untapped social media tools first before implementing new ones: Organizations that want to use social media for engaging employees in their change programs should look within the organization first for untapped resources and collaboration techniques. Enterprise tools are adding more social media components, providing a large untapped resource of technologies you and your audience might find useful.

3. Find your connectors: Use employees who are most connected within the organisation as ambassadors for social media usage. But also take note: these connectors might not always be your project or subproject leads.

4. Use the wisdom of the crowd: Involve employees early in the visioning and strategy stage to identify and shape the change processes that will be the most impactful. Get fresh ideas on specific questions or problems.

5. Leverage technology for quicker decision-making: Some organizations can make quicker decisions by using online surveys to gather requirements and feedback for important projects that have a large number of stakeholders. This is especially true in virtual environments where physical meetings would not be possible.

6. Create great communication campaigns: Collaborate with HR and internal communications teams to create truly inspiring campaigns that, for example, showcase the end state of the change program so people are able to visualize what they are working toward.

Leveraging social media in large IT transformation projects helps create buzz around the project, excite people, saves time and, ultimately, support successful change and rollout management. This can, in turn, help CIOs make significant progress in advancing current projects and investments. Because it provides an ideal mechanism for two-way communication, social media can also facilitate with building better relationships with your teams, and help you be a better leader who has the respect of your teams and your employees.

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