Change Management: How to Win Employee Buy-In with Real Data & Tangible Outcomes

Here’s a look at how you can use data to fight resistance to change with employee buy-in. Read to learn more!

Carrie Gabris

BC Practice Director

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Table of Content

    It doesn’t matter how big, small, or impactful the proposed change, getting stakeholders on-board will always be the first major hurdle you face in your transformation journey.

    Now, the problem is, change is something that people tend to fear and actively avoid.
    Unless you can put employees at ease and prove your “big idea” is worth the effort (and potential discomfort), they’re staying exactly where they are.

    Your best bet here is to let your data do the talking.

    See, data grounds your vision in reality, enables teams to measure progress and set goals, and empowers leaders to make decisions that make a real difference. It demonstrates the immediate value of change — presenting both real and potential impacts in tangible, contextually-relevant terms everyone can understand.

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    Here’s a look at how you can use data to fight resistance to change — at every phase in the transformation journey.

    Gather Evidence and Set Goals

    According to Deloitte, an evidence-based change management strategy can help build confidence in new technologies and create a positive relationship to change.

    Initially, it’s going to be about gathering evidence that identifies critical use cases and makes the case for change.

    A few things to focus on here:

    1. Understand Your People.

    The first thing you’ll need to do to lock down org-wide employee buy-in is to gain an understanding of the people you need to convince.

    What are their belief systems, challenges, and pain points? What motivates them personally? As an example, you might use social media analytics to learn more about stakeholder sentiment, but your best bet is capturing feedback directly from the source – through meetings, 1:1s, surveys, even informal conversations.

    This will help you determine how you’ll present the change to different groups, measure the impact of each change, and share the results of those efforts to inspire further action.

    2. Evaluate Your Current State.

    Having a clear picture of where you are right now is essential for quantifying future gains and estimating the effort and expense of implementing this change.

    You’ll need to be able to identify and communicate the reason for the upgrade – with data-backed examples that make business risks feel urgent.

    To get started, dig into the following data sets:

    • CX metrics. Are you meeting customer needs? Do you understand their expectations? What are you doing right and where are you falling short?
    • Competitive/market intelligence. What’s happening in the market right now? What are competitors doing? How will the proposed change help you respond to evolving trends, stiffer competition, new opportunities, and emerging threats?
    • Revenue metrics. How are the numbers looking? Are you turning a profit? Losing money? Are sellers hitting their quotas or struggling to close deals?
    • Process metrics. Where are inefficiencies happening? What processes are working – or not? Which teams are most effective in meeting critical business objectives? Which groups struggle the most? Are there manual processes that can be eliminated? Or automated ones that can be improved?

    The list goes on, but the point is, you’re trying to identify potential use cases rooted in real data.

    3. Quantify the Impact of the Proposed Change – In Context.

    According to an Enterprisers Project article, leaders must communicate the “why” behind a given initiative before jumping ahead to the “how.” That means, slowing down and making sure you present a compelling reason for the change – using data-backed examples that ground big ideas in reality.

    Gather data that highlights the impact of potential use cases, expected ROI, and productivity gains. How will those changes impact the company as a whole? Support specific teams/business units? Help individuals achieve their goals? What does this change mean for the bottom line? What kind of returns can you expect – and when?

    The more detailed you can get here, the better. When you can answer every question stakeholders may have – and provide compelling evidence for making this change, people will have an easier time hopping on-board.

    4. Identify Next Steps.

    Finally, you’ll need to have some idea of how change is supposed to happen. Who needs to be involved – and in what capacity? Are employees prepared to take this on? What technology and training will you need to bring everyone up to speed? How much will you need to spend to make it happen? What’s your timeline? How will each group work toward key milestones?

    While this list is far from comprehensive, the idea is, change management is a data-driven process.

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    You need a clear understanding of what you’re working with, what needs to change, and the desired outcome to gain – and sustain – org-wide employee buy-in.

    It’s worth noting that solutions like Power BI unify all relevant data sources – allowing you to analyze change-related insights in one place – enabling faster, more informed decisions.

    Identify Internal Champions & Change Agents

    Data can also help you identify internal change agents embedded throughout your organization. Here are the three main types of change champions to look for – and some insights that might lead you to those key individuals:

    1. Change Leaders.

    This group is instrumental in powering change at every level – convincing subordinates and peers alike to get on board with your vision, and more crucially, providing the hands-on training and support that drives action.

    You’ll want to look at existing org charts and data flows to understand team structure and the relationships between different business units. This will help you identify leaders best positioned to drive training at the ground level—in context with the big-picture plan. Who are the team leads? Who reports to them?

    2. Power Users.

    This group is critical for convincing change-averse peers to adopt new processes or tools, as well as providing hands-on, role-specific training. Usage data and productivity metrics can help you spot the power users making the most out of the new system – or effectively leveraging existing ones.

    3. Other Folks with a Flexible Mindset.

    The third-group consists of people who might not qualify as your “leaders” or “power users” but they’re flexible and willing to roll with the punches. They’re open to change, curious, and enjoy taking on new challenges. Early on, this group might be a bit tricky to identify through analytics alone.

    As adoption ramps up, you might look into usage data to find out which employees are spending the most time inside the new platform or app, which features they’re using, etc. Then from there, you can use those insights to inform your training strategy, future improvements, or large-scale digital transformation projects.

    Reinforce Agile Habits

    For all the talk about skills gaps – it’s the agility problem that blocks progress more than anything else.

    When “change” comes with a finish line, it has a very short shelf life. Change is a continuous process that needs to be part of the culture and collective mindset.

    That all might seem obvious, but for some business leaders, it can be difficult to get used to the idea that change – and change management – never truly ends.

    This Forbes post advises leaders to gently nudge employees to apply new behaviors. Say, you’re trying to get employees to embrace new, data-driven processes. In that case, you might send notifications reminding them of the desired behavior.

    The idea is, it takes a while for people to get used to new habits. Subtle reminders about things like feature updates, new resources, and data availability help ensure changes stick – for good.

    As an example, you might use workflow data to figure out how to connect resources to individual users – in their preferred workspaces – to encourage adoption and make it easy for users to get help when they need it.

    Another thing you might do here is use employee feedback – along with other relevant data – to put together learning cohorts so people can learn together. Sharing skills, insights and experiences promotes internal learning and sparks innovation, feedback, and strategies needed to form stronger teams.

    Data also gives you an opportunity to measure the impact of existing processes and continue to iterate and improve on what came before.

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    The Forbes piece also points out that change leaders must regularly communicate through relevant channels or forums. Think – dedicated Teams channels, a center of excellence, or change-specific forums embedded directly into the company intranet.

    Sustain Commitment to Change

    Business leaders can’t drive outcomes without data that can tell them whether people are all-in on a project and taking the right actions to achieve critical goals.

    It sounds obvious, but few orgs actually track change management performance from project to project beyond making sure that project goals were met.

    That’s a missed opportunity to capture critical data about who was involved in the project, how long it took to implement each change, how change was communicated to stakeholders, what tactics were used to achieve critical goals, and so on.

    Even when people are open to change, it’s way too easy to slip back into the warm comfort of old routines. One of the most powerful ways you can use data to win employee buy-in – and crucially, maintain it – is by providing tangible evidence of improvement.

    Connecting individual or team contributions to specific outcomes goes a long way in ensuring people feel seen, valued, and that their contributions are meaningful.

    Data plays an important role in demonstrating the ROI of initial efforts – winning over change skeptics and helping leadership imagine other use cases relevant to their own department or specialization.

    Early wins give holdouts a taste of what’s possible when changes are applied on a much larger scale.

    Consider how COVID-induced transformations convinced digital laggards to finally invest in remote work, AI, the cloud, etc. In those instances, things like revenue gains and improved customer satisfaction scores helped convince skeptical leaders these investments had a direct impact on productivity and profits – and, in many cases, prompted a wider rollout.

    Another way leaders can use data to drive and sustain change is by tracking change management performance against the project lifecycle. This allows you to identify where resistance is happening, so you can take action before it derails the project.

    Those insights can also be used to build a database that can be cross-referenced and used to establish standards that apply to a wide range of projects. Lessons learned from past efforts can be reused and refined across countless change initiatives.

    For example, data from a prior change impact analysis can be used to prevent future resistance. That way, you can identify and invest in the training, tools, and support resources needed to actively drive change – without multiple rounds of trial and error.

    As you capture more data, you’ll be able to build predictive models of organizational change that can be used to inform your strategy – and proactively avoid roadblocks you’ve encountered before.

    Final Thoughts

    Data is everything in change management – and all business strategies.

    As organizations continue to adapt to the evolving demands of digitalization and prepare for an uncertain future, it’s becoming more difficult to get stakeholder buy-in without compelling evidence that justifies the investment.

    Quantifying and communicating the impact of the proposed change – including use cases, expected ROI, and productivity gains will help offset resistance and get people on board. And, long-term, it plays a key role in maintaining momentum – offering definitive proof that employee efforts are paying off.

    That said, building an effective change management strategy is no easy task – one many organizations struggle to pull off on their own.

    With 30+ years of experience, Velosio knows exactly what it takes to help clients change – so they can achieve critical goals and win in today’s complex digital environment. Contact us today to learn how our experts can help you drive and sustain change for years to come.

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    Carrie Gabris

    BC Practice Director

    Follow Me: