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Embracing Change: Overcoming Resistance During Digital Transformation

Resistances during digital transformation

Digital transformation has proven highly useful and impactful for organizations across various industries. It enables companies to streamline and optimize processes, provide better customer service, and keep up with the competition. In fact, 80% of corporations in Australia are embarking on digital transformation.

Despite that, digital transformation remains with extreme failure rates and continues to be a challenge to many businesses. According to a study by Mckinsey Consulting in 2021, 69 percent of digital transformation projects fail.

This is mostly due to several factors, particularly human resistance. Many companies must understand that human elements are the most essential factor of digital transformation. And if people resist, the project will fail.

So, in this article, we will tackle ways to help you overcome resistance during digital transformation in your company!

Why Digital transformation creates fear and resistance?

Before jumping right into the strategies, it’s first essential to understand “why employees resist digital transformation?” Well, resistance to digital transformation is natural. According to a study conducted by Robbins and Galperin] in 2019, “the state that resisting organizational change is in the nature of employees because they often find it uncomfortable to leave their comfort zone.”

Likewise, this makes resistance to change in any matter more common and can manifest itself in many ways. Here are some common factors:

1.   Fear of the unknown

One of the most widespread resistance to change is the “fear of the unknown.” Fear of the unknown is human beings’ tendency to fear something they don’t have information about.

When it comes to digital transformation, employees may be apprehensive about new technologies and digital tools if they are unfamiliar with them. The fear of being unable to adapt or feeling overwhelmed can lead to resistance.

Likewise, older employees or those less familiar with technology might resist digital transformation due to a lack of confidence in their ability to learn and adapt. In addition, inadequate training, and support on using the new digital tools can frustrate and make employees resistant to change. They might be more comfortable with traditional methods they are already familiar with.

2.   Change in job roles or loss

Digital transformation can sometimes lead to changes in job roles or responsibilities. As such, one of the most common causes of resistance to change is their fear of changing job roles or losing them.

Employees might resist these changes if they perceive them as threatening their job security or feeling unprepared for the new tasks. Introducing digital technologies can disrupt existing workflows and processes. Employees who are used to a particular way of doing things may resist changes that they see as unnecessary or inconvenient.

And in some cases, employees may fear that digital transformation could lead to job cuts or render their skills obsolete, creating resistance to change. Automated systems and digital tools may reduce employees’ control over specific tasks. This loss of control can make them feel uneasy and scared that they are about to lose their jobs.

3.   Cultural resistance

Company culture plays a significant role in digital transformation. However, employees may only adopt new technologies if the organizational culture promotes innovation, collaboration, and openness to change.

When employees are not involved in the decision-making process or are not adequately informed about the benefits of digital transformation, they are more likely to resist the changes.

Tips for Addressing Resistance During Digital Transformation

Addressing resistance during digital transformation is crucial for ensuring a smooth and successful transition. Resistance can come from various sources, including employees, leaders, and other stakeholders. Here are some tips to effectively address resistance during digital transformation:

Resistances During Digital Transformation

Tip 1 – Identify the Source of Resistance

Resistance to digital transformation doesn’t come out of thin air. Usually, it has a reason: whether it’s challenges in learning new technologies, lack of training and education, or external factors. As such, understanding the logic associated with this can help shed light on how to address them effectively.

To help you overcome this resistance during digital transformation, here are some steps to help you identify the sources of resistance:

  • Conduct Surveys and Interviews. Ask about their concerns, challenges, and thoughts regarding digital transformation.
  • Analyse Communication and Feedback. Offer anonymous channels, such as suggestion boxes or digital platforms, where employees can express their concerns or share feedback without fear of retribution. Then, try to understand the sentiments and reactions of employees towards digital transformation. Look for patterns and recurring themes in the feedback.
  • Observe Behavioural Patterns. Pay attention to employees’ behaviour and actions while implementing digital transformation initiatives. Resistance might manifest through a lack of engagement, missed deadlines, or avoidance of using new tools.
  • Identify Key Influencers. Understanding their perspectives and motivations can help address any misconceptions or concerns they might have.

Tip 2 – Communicate the Benefits

Another way to overcome resistance during digital transformation is by having effective communication. Communication fosters cooperation.  A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that effective communication significantly contributed to conflict resolution in the workplace. Better communication channels reduced misunderstandings and improved overall cooperation among employees.

Thus, fostering open communication and dialogues between employees, managers, and leaders is vital in digital transformation. As such, management must create opportunities for discussions about the benefits and challenges of digital transformation and encourage employees to voice their opinions and concerns. Likewise, here are some ways you can foster communication in a digital transformation project:

  • Develop a comprehensive communication plan that outlines the digital transformation’s objectives, timelines, and critical milestones. Identify the target audience for each communication and select appropriate channels for reaching them.
  • Engage key stakeholders, including employees, managers, and executives, right from the beginning of the transformation process. Involvement fosters a sense of ownership and encourages open dialogue about the changes.
  • Clearly communicate the vision and goals of the digital transformation. Explain how it aligns with the organization’s overall strategy and how it will benefit the company, employees, and customers.
  • Address Concerns and Questions. Encourage employees to voice their concerns, questions, and suggestions openly. Provide multiple channels for feedback, such as surveys, town hall meetings, or anonymous suggestion boxes.
  • Implement collaborative digital tools, such as project management platforms, instant messaging apps, and team collaboration software, to facilitate communication and keep everyone connected.
  • Provide regular updates on the progress of the digital transformation. Keep the communication ongoing throughout the process to keep stakeholders informed and engaged.


Tip 3 – Involve and Empower Employees

Employee involvement and empowerment are crucial elements for the success and growth of any organization. They contribute to a positive work environment, increased productivity, and better performance.

When it comes to digital transformation, employees play a crucial role in achieving success. But as mentioned earlier, fear is inevitable in digital transformation. And employees may find it intimidating or overwhelming. As such, it’s essential to involve them. After all, empowered employees are less likely to support resistance to digital transformation and are more likely to work harder in achieving its goals.

Here are some ways you can empower employees:

  • Offer training and coaching. Educational resources to help employees understand the changes and new technologies. This will empower them to adapt and embrace the transformation with confidence.
  • Acknowledge that some individuals may resist change and be prepared to address their concerns proactively.
  • Emphasize Two-Way Communication. Communication should be a smooth flow of information. Create a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas and where leadership listens and responds to feedback.
  • Delegate Decision-Making. Another way to prevent resistance to digital transformation and empower employees is by delegating decision-making authority within their areas of expertise. Encourage them to take ownership of their projects and initiatives.
  • Provide Resources. Ensure that employees have access to the necessary resources, such as digital tools and training materials, to support their involvement in the digital transformation.

Tip 4 – Be Clear on Expectation

Clear expectations are one of the vital components of a business. It provides a clear roadmap and defines a project’s objectives, scope, and deliverables, guiding team members on what needs to be accomplished. Team members may interpret tasks and requirements differently without clear expectations, leading to misunderstandings and potential conflicts. Clear expectations ensure everyone is on the same page and reduce the risk of miscommunication.

Thus, clear expectation is necessary for digital transformation. In nature, digital transformation initiatives can be complex and far-reaching. It involves adopting new technologies, changes in how people interact and requires a substantial investment that includes time, money, and personnel.

Clear expectations help define the scope of the transformation, including which areas or processes will be affected and what the desired outcomes are. This prevents the project from becoming overwhelming, ensures a focused approach, and helps overcome resistance during digital transformation.

Tip 5 – Recognise and Reward

In a company, rewards and recognition are essential for several reasons. It serves as a powerful motivator for individuals. When employees are acknowledged and rewarded for their efforts and achievements, they feel valued and appreciated, leading to higher engagement and commitment to their work.

This is similar to digital transformation. Rewards and recognition are crucial during digital transformation and when facing resistance to change. It can motivate employees to embrace these changes and actively participate in the transformation journey. Likewise, recognising their efforts in upskilling and adapting to new technologies encourages a culture of continuous learning.

Here are some ways to recognise and reward employees and overcome resistance to digital transformation:

  • Ensure leaders actively support and promote employee involvement and empowerment in the transformation process. Leaders should be accessible and approachable to address concerns and provide guidance.
  • Share success stories and best practices from employees who have successfully embraced the changes. This encourages others to get involved and demonstrates the positive outcomes of the transformation.
  • Recognize and celebrate the achievements and milestones reached during the transformation journey. Positive reinforcement reinforces the importance of the changes and boosts morale.

Start your digital transformation journey with us!

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, successful organizations understand the importance of embracing change through digital transformation. However, navigating this journey is not without its challenges, as resistance to change can hinder progress.

As such, it’s vital that during this transformative journey, companies must use powerful tools to motivate employees, foster collaboration, and drive successful outcomes. Organisations should also create a positive and supportive environment that encourages innovation, learning, and adaptability.

At Soma Technology Group, we are passionate about guiding businesses through flawless digital transformations. Our experienced team is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to support your organization every step of the way. Embrace digital transformation opportunities and seize the competitive edge by contacting Soma Technology Group today. Together, we will embark on a transformative journey to success. Embrace change, and the possibilities are limitless.

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