5 ways to immediately reenergize your ongoing transformation
You are mid-flight on your transformation. Progress has been decent, but you really wish for things to be great. You’ve secured a few early wins, and employees are starting to believe your vision could indeed become possible, but they are still lacking real enthusiasm for the possibilities that lay ahead. You fear that initial excitement and energy about the transformation is dwindling. What should you do?
First and foremost, you must talk to your company to understand what has been working well and what needs to change. This feedback process is essential, and you should be doing it on an ongoing basis (if you are not, you should start immediately). Engage the executive team, but please don’t stop there. Have skip-level conversations, talk to your top talent (whether or not they are involved in the transformation), and get a pulse from your frontline employees. This will give you a fertile ground to come up with and prioritize ideas to drive continuous improvement to your effort.
The following are some suggestions to reenergize your ongoing efforts:
Spend more time with your Transformation Officer and Transformation Office (TO). It is perfectly ok for you to delegate the leadership of the transformation, but not its accountability. Success or failure is your ultimate responsibility, so you must ensure that the people driving the effort are working as effectively as they can. After collecting feedback from your company, you will have a number of areas of improvement for the Transformation Officer and TO. Ensure they adjust where the impact is greater. Ask them what other things you could do to help - if they are good, they will come up with a list of ideas to put your time to good use. Any time spent with the TO will pay off handsomely, since it will impact the entire transformation effort.
Spend more time with the transformation team (workstreams). Your employees look up to you and the executive team, so spend more time with them: show up to important meetings, roll up your sleeves, join problem solving sessions on topics you care about, and talk to them about your vision and why the work is so important. The more present you are, the more enthusiastic your teams will be.
Recognize your employees. We’ve been indoctrinated to look for and solve problems, and we often forget to recognize the great work our teams have been doing. Transformations are tough, and your team will very likely be worn out. Thank them for their efforts - and be specific. I remember receiving a call from the CEO of a company I used to work for to tell me how great of a job I was doing driving the transformation effort, and to compliment me on a specific issue I had solved. And this was over a decade ago! Be an appreciative leader. Also, since you are at it, there are a number of people doing amazing work to keep the lights on in the core business while the transformation is happening - thank them as well!
Tell the transformation story yet again (and again, and again). You may not have realized it, but it has been a while since you told the transformation story to your entire company (and, when relevant, to customers and vendors). Revamp the story with recent lessons and continue telling it. Employees need to hear the message several times before buying in, and you need to help them move through the 5 stages of grief (more detail here). Depending on how far along you are in the transformation, you may also need to pivot from focusing on your vision to the implications to employees (more detail here).
Surprise your company. What? I thought you said your company has been lacking enthusiasm? All the activities above will help, but I am sure you can do much better. Wow them in fun and unexpected ways. Record a video where you and your transformation team are lip-synching and dancing together. Get a band to write a song about your journey and have them perform at the next all-hands meeting with you as the singer. Bring a key customer to talk about the transformation with all your employees. Design a t-shirt for your entire company with an iconic expression from the transformation team. Invite all employees to a transformation-themed barbeque. Your creativity is the limit.
Transformations are lengthy, and it is normal for the energy from the early months to subside, giving space to a demanding routine. Energize your team by spending more time with them, recognizing their efforts, continuing to tell the transformation story, and surprising them.