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    December 8, 2020
    7 minute read

    5 Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change Management

    by: Barb Mosher Zinck

    Digital transformation is the adoption of digital technology to transform services or business — and within the world of commerce, implementation initiatives can often be met with resistance.

    One of the top challenges to successful transformation was resistance to change, according to a recent report, "2020 State of Digital Transformation," from Altimeter, a Prophet company.

    There are many reasons executives and employees alike fight change. They may be worried their job will go away. They may be used to how they work and scared they won't adapt to new processes and technology. They may simply not understand the benefits of change.

    Regardless of how big or small your commerce-driven digital transformation, you must acknowledge that change management is a critical element of your transformation initiative. It's not something you can leave to end; you need to address it upfront.

    5 Digital Transformation Tips for Overcoming Resistance to Change Management

    To help you figure out how to approach change management, we outline five change management tips for handling resistance.

    Tip 1: Expect and Prepare for Resistance From the Start

    Traditionally, software implementation projects deal with change management at the end of the project. This order is a bad idea for digital transformation projects, as the changes are more likely to be more significant and more widespread.

    Don’t assume that because your team — and even your CEO — are all in on your digital transformation strategy, everyone in the organization will be as well or will obediently go along.

    Change is hard for any organization. You need to expect that people will resist to varying degrees. Accepting that fact and planning for it from the very beginning is critical.

    One way to prepare is to create a document that lists at a high-level all the changes you know will happen and which teams or departments will be affected by the change. For each team, list all the possible concerns they might have and how you would respond to the concern.

    As your projects move forward, this list may grow or adapt, so be prepared to review and update it regularly. Use this list to manage communications.

    Tip 2: Identify Resistant Team Members and Root Causes for Resistance

    Many people are creatures of habit and don't like change. While it's not necessarily wrong to be this way, it's challenging to implement changes that will benefit the organization. But that doesn't mean employees can't change. You need to identify where the resistance exists and why.

    As you start to work on your digital transformation initiative, such as implementing new software, such as a commerce experience management (CommerceXM) platform, pay close attention to the team members affected and how they deal with the change.

    Listen to their questions and concerns openly to identify the root causes of resistance. Then address them. Some may be concerned that too many people can directly add product content. You can explain enabling more people to add content directly will speed up the content-development process, and this robust workflow will be in place to ensure any product content changes are appropriately reviewed and approved before going live.

    It's not enough to listen. You must actively address the concerns to show team members that digital transformation is necessary and to get their support. Often, your biggest challengers become your biggest advocates once you prove to them the change is beneficial and essential to the brand's success.

    Tip 3: Set Clear Expectations and Create a Transparent Communication Process

    Communication. Communication. Communication. No digital transformation initiative will succeed without a well-thought-out and implemented communication strategy. Your communication strategy should address what to communicate, to whom, how often, and through what tactic.

    You may start by having a company-wide meeting or sending a company-wide email announcing your digital transformation strategy. This email should come from your CEO to show everyone that management fully supports the initiative. That email should list some of the first projects that will happen.

    From there, you may have workshops for team members affected by individual projects to explain what’s going to change and how, and start to identify and address any questions or concerns.

    Regular updates are also critical to maintaining support amongst the executive and employees. You can provide project progress reports, milestones, challenges, and other important updates, via regular meetings, emails, or other critical communication channels. Provide detailed updates to team members, but also offer high-level updates to the company overall.

    Tip 4: Implement a Training and Support Program

    One of the most significant resistance to change is the fear of new technology. Employees are not sure they can or want to learn how to use new technology.

    There are two ways to manage this fear of new technology:

    1. Training
    2. Technology Advisor

    First, a technology advisor is someone who knows the software well. This person will have a clear picture of how technology will change the way people work, and they can speak to these changes in a way that helps people understand.

    This person will be critical to the communications team, but they will also lead the initiative's training program.

    A training program will teach team members how to work with the new software. You will have different training courses based on how employees will use the latest software and how their existing processes will change.

    For example, when implementing commerce experience software, you will have a training course for employees who create and manage product content and another one for employees responsible for managing channels.

    In addition to training, you will also need to set up and maintain a support program to help employees as they adjust to the new software and processes. The support program may not be permanent, but it's critical to ensuring successful adoption in the early stages.

    Tip 5: Show Early Proof That Change Works

    One of the best ways to deal with resistance is to show changes work. Digital transformation initiatives are rarely a one-and-done situation. Successful transformation happens over time, with a focus on completing projects in phases.

    Learn the most significant pain points for the business or team, and show them how the change can resolve them. Perform a proof of concept walkthrough of a current challenge, showing the team how things will improve. Another approach is to complete one or two smaller projects first that deliver success.

    Both tactics get people excited about how things will change and win their loyalty for the changes to come.

    Digital Transformation Needs a Change Management Plan

    Digital transformation is enormous for organizations. The benefits of transforming are many, and most organizations understand it has to happen. But acknowledging change needs to happen is one thing; getting your executive team and your employees on board are entirely different.

    Get their support early and often. These five change management tips can help provide you with a set of tactics you can employ to ensure you manage the changes well before they happen and ensure successful adoption.

    Watch our recent webinar, “Moving at the Speed of Commerce: Introduction of Salsify Commerce Experience Management,” to learn how CommerceXM can help you to move faster than your competition and optimize every digital touchpoint for discovery, conversion, and brand affinity.


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