A new system may be great for your business but its obvious advantages don’t mean your employees will all be raving about it from the get-go. No matter how good it is, new technology can fail even before it gets off the ground if your staff aren’t on board with the changes. It’s only human that workers will want to hold onto the familiarity of existing systems instead of getting out of their comfort zones to embrace something different.
This is why careful planning is essential if you want to have a smooth and relatively uneventful transition to a new system. Here are a number of initiatives that can get all your employees on the same team of supporting and adopting incoming technology.
1. Break It Down into Incremental Steps
Radical change is uncomfortable, disruptive and leaves a general feeling of unease. In a sense, it can feel like a giant leap into the unknown. One of the most effective ways of getting past such employee apprehension is to break up the implementation of new technology into smaller, bite-size incremental phases.
Incremental change creates the impression that the new technology is not such a radical shift from the existing one but is instead a gradual improvement. This makes it more palatable and less unsettling. It also gives your workers time to gradually accept the benefits of the new system. They’ll slowly start to see the need to make the switch.
2. Provide Training
Part of the reason employees are so apprehensive about new technology is a feeling that they are taking a journey into the unknown and unpredictable. There’s a sense that their mastery of current systems would become almost irrelevant in the wake of the new technology.
To counter this fear, develop a comprehensive training and awareness program weeks or months before the new system goes live. Use a scheduling tool such as Humanity.com to ensure all employees dedicate some time each week to understanding the new software. Take your staff through what the new technology does, how it works, the features it comes with that don’t exist in your current system and how it gives your organization a competitive advantage.
Training will not completely get rid of employee fears but it will give your workers confidence in the knowledge that they aren’t being burdened with a new system completely unprepared.
3. Engage Employees from the Start
Ultimately, the decision to acquire a new system is made by the business owner or senior management. Nevertheless, the main users of the new technology are your employees. The organization will run into less resistance in implementing the system if they strive to make staff feel part of the concept, design, development and deployment process.
It’s through this level of engagement that employees can go past the more superficial reasons for acquiring a new system and start to deeply grasp the rationale for the change. After all, one of the reasons for buying new technology is to make your employees more efficient and productive. If they understand why it’s needed, they are more likely to support it.
4. Allow for Failure
Setting unrealistic expectations of your employees and the new technology is one of the fastest paths to eliciting staff resentment and skepticism over the looming changes. No matter how much preparation and testing goes into the new system, you’re inevitably going to run into some challenges when you move it to production.
Ergo, allow some room for user error. Failure can be a powerful tool for learning. Users will steadily gain mastery of the new system. That being said, this doesn’t mean you should accept an employee repeatedly failing at the same thing. Each failure must be followed by a root cause analysis and appropriate changes to process and procedure that will ensure such failure doesn’t recur.
Change isn’t something that we always look forward to with eager anticipation. That’s why numerous books have been written and courses developed providing guidelines on successful change management. By following the above tips, you can make your employees more receptive to any new system your business acquires.