Communicate a new vision and inspire employees

If you are about to spearhead major changes in your organization, one thing is for sure. No matter how big your vision, your plan, the enthusiasm of the investors and your top team, you will also need the enthusiastic commitment of your employees.

My previous Business Matters article “Business Transformations – A Formula for Success,” covers several key ingredients for transforming a business. At the moment, I’m excited to revive the fortune of ERP software vendor Forterro. It is right up there in my duties as CEO to communicate with and inspire our 1,400 employees.

Go and talk about it

To transform a company’s requirements, you must first define your new mission and plan at a high level and communicate it to your management team in a meaningful and powerful way. Then you need to listen to and act on quality feedback, move on to detailed plans that define actions, responsibilities, and schedules. So go out among your workforce and gain their trust. You will need to give energy and strength to everyone to deliver.

Sign what will change (and what will not). Why will it change and when? Why is it necessary? How will the changes better serve your people’s goals? You need employee procurement, and for that you need localized engagement models.

Customize your employee’s message

Not everyone is motivated by the same things. Tailor your message to different groups, geographies and perspectives. Salespeople in the UK will be motivated by something very different from a software development team in India or a professional service team in Sweden. Some people are driven by the potential to earn more or by job security. Some are looking for an exciting growth company that offers career paths. Others want more responsibility or working with new technologies. Others will appreciate how you deliver something for the best.

At Forterro, our people are passionate about smaller producers. Our mission is to help these companies succeed by serving their customers well. So how we make it even better and better than our competitors is at the heart of my transformation plans and shaping my message to employees and other stakeholders.

Define the way forward

For all roles across your company, you need to define important changes and how your employees are expected to accommodate or make those changes. What would you ask your product development, marketing, sales, customer support and other teams to do differently? Tell people how long things will stay “business as usual” and when they can expect the changes to begin.

Define how the journey is to be navigated in detail, and outline everyone’s part of the journey. Talk to team leaders and win their support across companies. They will then communicate and promote change to their teams, be able to answer the many questions, help earn the buy-in and overcome anxiety or resistance.

Lead by example

After communicating a new mission and plan to get there, stick to it; as long as it continues to make clear sense. Support your leaders when difficult decisions need to be made. Stick to the plan. Try not to allow exceptions to the rule, otherwise confusion will dilute energy and clarity for future decisions.

At my previous turnaround CEO project, an HR software company, an important element of the strategy was to move from an older on-premise product offering to cloud-based software as a service (SaaS). This provided better value and service for the customers, would be easier for us to support and free us up to scale the business. But we had to gently move our customers away from our old product, which we had to stop supporting. One big customer wanted to stay with the old platform. I led the decision to drop the customer even though it would hit our immediate revenue. Our employees were told that I was serious about the new strategy and our new future. It provided employees with a framework in which they could shop safely. They knew they wanted my support.

People are the heart of your business. Transformation plans only succeed if you can communicate a clear vision in a way that inspires, engages and enables any employee to both visualize and deliver change. It can be a huge challenge. But win the hearts and minds of your employee community, and success will follow

Dean Forbes

Dean Forbes is a British tech entrepreneur and business leader with a reputation in medium-sized software business transformations. He is one of the UK’s top 50 business leaders, according to Lloyds Bank and The Daily Telegraph. He has also been named to the Black Powerlist as one of the hundred most influential black people in the United Kingdom. Dean has turned three once-fighting corporate technology organizations, and built them into success stories for investors by delivering over $ 1 billion. in exit transactions. In March 2021, he accepted his new role and became CEO of Forterro, a production ERP software company where investor Battery Ventures has entrusted him with reviving the company across Europe. Dean was eager to ‘give something back’ and founded the Forbes Family Group, through which he actively coaches, mentors and invests in young entrepreneurs and leaders. He is also an unwavering advocate for social mobility initiatives, both as investment opportunities and through sponsorship of projects in the communities with which he is associated.

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