In today’s ever-changing marketplace, staying relevant is the name of the game. Whether it’s a digital transformation, culture overhaul, or mission and branding pivot, businesses who can successfully execute on transformations will gain a competitive edge.

The problem is, change is hard, and transformations require rigorous planning and continuous effort across the organization over a substantial period of time for success. Research from McKinsey has identified 24 different transformation practices that when pursued, more triple the rate of transformation success.

In this post, we’ve boiled down those proven success factors into a five-step plan for executing a successful business transformation.

1. Inspire Employees with a Compelling Vision

For a transformation to happen successfully, you need buy-in from employees. To do this, leadership should create an inspiring narrative about the change initiative that stems from the company mission and paints a picture for the future. All leaders in the organization need to be actively involved in telling this story to align the entire organization around the transformation’s goals.

If your communications plan only includes the “what” and not the “why”, you will be setting yourself up for failure. Make sure to explain how the initiative will help the business succeed in the long term as well as how it will benefit employees. By leveraging this narrative, leadership can help employees become emotionally invested in seeing the transformation succeed.

2. Identify and Celebrate Early Successes

Business transformations are a lengthy endeavor, and without early signs of success, employees can burn out quickly. As part of your planning process, you’ll want to identify quick wins and consecutive milestones and plan for celebratory communications. Create rigor around milestones by assigning owners and setting deadlines.

As each project is completed, share the good news with the workforce and celebrate the teams responsible. Keeping employees in the loop on all progress that is made will help you keep the fire burning and see the transformation through to the end.

3. Keep Employees Informed with Regular Communications

As touched on above, transformations are a long continuous process. Leaders can’t just announce that a big re-org is happening or new technology is being rolled out and then be done. Leadership must keep employees informed throughout the entire process.

In the beginning, make sure to explain how the transformation will affect employees’ day to day work. Get them excited by explaining what’s in it for them — less paperwork, easier collaboration, more opportunities for career growth, etc — and how their contributions help the company reach its goals.

When you keep employees in the loop on what is happening, what is expected of them, and how they have opportunities to make a difference, you’ll be much more successful at creating excitement and calming any fears that employees have.

4. Empower Managers to Effectively Lead Through Change

Business transformations affect everyone across the organization and it is critical that managers and executives are effective when leading employees through the change. McKinsey research found several practices among managers that lead to successful transformations. These include:

  • Leaders role-modeled the behavior changes they were asking employees to make
  • Managers know that their primary role is to lead and develop their teams
  • Leaders of initiatives received change-leadership training during the transformation

The last bullet is especially important in drumming up support among the workforce. As part of the transformation plan, make sure to educate all leadership levels on how to be an effective leader during times of change, how employees react to and navigate change, and how to address roadblocks or areas of resistance.

5. Create Employee Champions

The final piece of a successful transformation is to identify and leverage employee champions. Find employees across each department or team who actively support the transformation and give them projects to lead. As these individuals lead projects and cultivate support among their peers, start bringing more people into the process. Reach out to employees for feedback on how the transformation is going and reward those who step up. With this feedback loop and a network of champions on the frontlines, the success of the transformation won’t only hang on the shoulders of a few executives who the workforce rarely works with face to face.

Ready for a Transformation?

Whether you are upgrading from pen and paper to a digital field service solution like SeriviceMax, or are seeking a cultural shift towards innovation or transparency, following these principles will keep you on a path to success.

Botched implementations of technology happen all the time. Don’t let employee resistance or poor change leadership stop your transformation in its tracks. With a focus on communicating, leading by example and engaging employees, the odds will be in your favor.

ABOUT Kristen Wells

Kristen is the senior manager of corporate communications at PTC and editor of Field Service Digital. She is passionate about elevating the stories of women in field service and improving communication between the field and the office. Prior to ServiceMax, Kristen held content marketing roles at startups such as Zinc and cielo24. Kristen holds a B.A. in Communication with an emphasis on Professional Writing from the University of California, Santa Barbara.