Common Business Transformation Challenges Managers Face

Most industries are undergoing major transformation and organizations need to change in order to compete. Transformation is rarely easy, and the bigger the change the more difficult it can be. The following are common business transformation challenges managers face and ways to help make the change more smoothly.

1. Staff Resistance

This is likely the biggest barrier to most business transformation challenges and, in our opinion, the easiest to overcome. The more staff know and are included in business transformation projects, the more likely they are to support changes. Communicating and involving team members isn’t just good practice – it’s also a terrific way to have rich information and new insights provided in decision making. Team members at all levels of the business have client insights which are invaluable to leaders. Many managers feel resistance to communicating or involving staff because they fear it will slow down the process, or they will have pushback on the initiatives. Likely, both these things are true and will happen. However, by hearing it and getting staff input early on, managers have a better chance at dealing with any resistance head-on and it not slowing down change later.

2. Lack Of Skilled Staff

As businesses transform, the skills required of their staff will also need to change. Depending on the scope of the transformation the gap between what skills exist in the business and what ones will be needed in the future will grow accordingly. Managers can use smart and simple HR planning tools to help understand and address the gap. Firstly, when a business transformation project is in its early stages managers can start by asking what skills are required to get us through this transformation and what skills will be needed once we are on the other side? Then an assessment can be done of the current staff and the skills they have. Staff will either have the skills needed, be identified as being able to learn the required skills through training and development, or may no longer be the right fit for the organization. Once managers have taken this inventory they can act accordingly. Knowing early in the process what skills are required and how to get there will help the roll-out and implementation of the business transformation.

3. Improper Planning

This can be a huge catch-all for many things that can go wrong during business transformation. From our perspective, most organizations rush into change and then fail during the process. Taking the time upfront to do thorough planning, may seem to be slowing things down but, often leads to much greater success in the end. From a manager perspective, improper planning can lead to small changes being constantly communicated to staff in a one-off fashion. This type of communication can lead to change-fatigue. Taking the time upfront to communicate and involve staff, build strategic plans, think through the many possible scenarios, ask people what could go wrong, have contingency plans and be able to communicate small changes in the context of a much larger project are actions managers can take to increase success. Planning can be as formal or informal as the company and context requires, but is key to organizations seeing business transformation projects through.

Business transformation will succeed or fail based on the team members who are involved to implement them. Managers hold the keys to how willing their staff will be to participate in the change. By ensuring the right staff are in the organization, and including them early on to help in the planning process, will be a great start for organizations to overcome these challenges.


Amanda Hudson

Amanda Hudson is the founder of A Modern Way to Work – an HR and People Management consultancy.