We have to give meaning to transformation in the “new normal”: yes, but how?

In the situation we are currently living, the question of meaning is more valid than ever. Now, more than ever before, employees need to find meaning in what they do. It is imperative that we take note of this acceleration and give our employees suitable guidance and support as they seek to belong and to engage – remotely.

A paradigm shift such as this requires a certain (r)evolution in how we think and how we give support. The traditional approach to change management – pushing employees to engage – is now more obsolete than ever. And with good reason – change is first set in motion from within: fundamentally, change comes from each of us and not from the system. To help achieve this, businesses must provide tools of engagement that are connected to its business tools.

The new normal is accelerating the integration of paradigm shifts into the daily lives of businesses and their employees.
Michaël Bentolila, CEO and co-founder of InsideBoard

This was the underlying situation when members of the Inside Success Lab, the first think tank dedicated to business transformation, got together in September to share their vision and good practice around this topic.

1/ Meaning, the key to engagement in the new normal

Finding meaning can also refer to finding a sense of direction. How can we help employees involved in transformation projects to understand the issues concerned and ensure that everyone is singing from the same songbook?

  • Getting everyone on board requires personal investment within a “give and get”” dynamic.
    From this point of view, giving meaning is about showing what the transformation will bring to the whole group as well as to each individual. It’s also about believing that what counts is the leveraging effect of employees using a new tool or process, engaging with it and continually improving it, rather than the tool or process itself.
  • Speeches aren’t enough. Personalization is fundamental to success.
    It’s important to address the issue collectively yet at the same time allow individuals to engage on a personal level, each in their own way, by giving them suitable objectives and tools. In this regard, digital technologies are key.
  • Transformation is not an end in itself, it is a way of ensuring long term survival and maintaining values. It involves taking the whole group in a new direction, without losing its original values. That is why it is important to make use of sponsors and ambassadors to mobilize others.
  • Make meaning an integral part of the transformation. Addressing the objectives in tandem with their meaning enables a practical approach, such as seeing improvements in both the customer experience and that of the employee as going hand in hand with improvements in the shareholder experience.
    CRM tools do not have a financial objective, they target only client and employee perceptions: this message is fairly easy to get across. However, success will only be achieved if we keep the initial promise made to our teams, i.e. if the process adds value to employees.
    It is also worth looking into the Objectives & Key Results (OKR) approach, used on the InsideBoard platform, which is based on aligning teams using meaningful indicators.

2/ Best engagement and project marketing practices and methodologies

Putting employees at the heart of the initiative

“Giving substance to the employee experience by making it as important as the customer experience is a powerful engagement lever.”

Understanding a project is a prerequisite to adherence and therefore to engagement. But ensuring that the transformation is of use to everyone on a daily basis is also the way to success. Creating the conditions of trust that will release employee energy requires:

  • practical, clear communication about both objectives and expected rewards – including, in fact most of all, on an individual level;
  • reminders about the company history, its purpose, its situation, its vision and the direction it has chosen and why;
  • regular communication about meaning;
  • project marketing;
  • personal guidance and support for employees;
  • a visible value proposition;
  • a community of in-house ambassadors;
  • specific tools;
  • close monitoring of improvements in the employee experience.

A glimpse of the future

“Change management is not about finding what isn’t working and trying to improve it, it’s about bringing meaning by setting out a vision of the future. ”

Co-construction is often poorly organized and thus not the good idea it may appear to be. Its success is conditional upon pre-establishing a target, vision, framework and levers. Because otherwise, co-construction naturally results in no more than an attempt to improve what already exists, is already known. Here, then, a sense of meaning refers primarily to a sense of direction.
Successful co-construction, therefore, is about striking the right balance:

  • a clear, common goal, levers, and a framework; ;
  • 10% stimulating, motivational people – such people are often disruptive and dare to think outside the box, yet they still inspire confidence;
  • 90% people responsible for building the new system based on a combination of the field of possibilities and disruptive proposals, rather than on the existing situation with which they are familiar.

3/ Measuring to improve employee buy-in

Shared business indicators help to get everyone on board
in terms of improving quality. For example, with a customer relations transformation project, the rate at which business opportunities are updated can be measured by the number of opportunities opened whose closing date has expired.

Indicators of the “number of individual connections”, or “who did what”, kind are better left to field managers. Even if the number of connections allows us to measure the success of certain projects, this is not the kind of KPI that is likely to get employees on board.

Once the community impacted by the transformation has been identified, meaningful business KPIs must be established and employees must be allowed to experience the transformation in their own way. Artificial intelligence is key to seamlessly implementing such an approach, whereby, ultimately, employees know where they’re going and have the right levers of engagement.


In the new normal, a meaningful transformation project must be:

  1. comprehensible; ;
  2. personalizable; ;
  3. practical; ;
  4. value-adding for both the company and its employees; ;
  5. empowering; ;
  6. measurable through meaningful indicators.