Too often, companies introduce a new technology or software without helping employees adapt or teaching them how to use these new tools effectively for their jobs. But there are ways you can ensure a smoother transition and early adoption of these tools.
1. Understand your context and needs first
If you need to introduce new technology or software to your team, it’s important to understand how well your team will adapt to these new tools and how much they might welcome or resist any changes before you implement them. You need to evaluate what is already being used and why, as well as what works about it and what doesn’t. What are employees’ current needs? Barriers? What might employees need to be able to do in 5 years time? 10 years time?
You may find that after a careful analysis of your context, there’s no real need for the change, but rather a need for further training on the existing tools you're using. Or, you may find that the solution you’re considering doesn’t do what your teams need it to do. That’s where the next step comes in.
2. Consult with those who will be using the tools
It’s helpful to have team leaders consult with employees to establish how their teams are using the various tools available to them, what they like and dislike about those tools, and how resistant or enthusiastic they may be about a change. In this process, you may find that teams are using the old technology or software in a specific way and the new tool you were considering actually doesn’t provide this. An easy option is to send out a short survey via email or poll employees (for example using a poll app within another tool you might use like Slack). Showing employees that you’re considering their needs and opinions will put them on your side. As importantly, you will gain a better understanding of any limitations or benefits of what you’re already using and may find ways to maximize on your current tools rather than relying on a new one. For example, you may discover that what your teams need is more training on the existing tools.
3. Clarify the benefits of the change
Too often, employees have new tools thrust on them without understanding what the benefits or uses are of those new tools to their jobs. They may be given a rundown of the specs, but it’s often unclear how the new tool will help them or the organization in the future. Ensure that rather than only focusing on the features of the tool (what it does), any training or introduction to the tool focuses on why it’s of benefit to employees, i.e., explain why they should care and how it helps make their lives and jobs easier. If you’ve examined your context carefully, the new tool should meet the needs of everyone who has to use it; it shouldn’t have to be a “hard sell,” as the tool will be a natural fit. Focusing on the benefits will help overcome any natural resistance to having to adjust to new ways of operating and any learning curves that come with the new tool.
4. Engage your technology “champions”
You may already know or have identified employees who get excited about new technology or software. These are most likely going to be your early adopters, and they can become your “champions” of the new tool you’re implementing. If you can get these “champions” on board (and it’s important this group includes leadership), it will be easier to help other employees understand the benefits and help them to adjust. A slower roll out of the technology, too, starting with this core group of “champions” will likely lead to an easier switchover in the long run.
5. Ensure support is in place and is easy to access
To transition effectively, it’s vital to have sufficient support in place for employees – and that may include providing additional time for them to adjust to the change. Is there a central support person they can turn to with questions? A database or wiki of FAQs? Sufficient, accessible training that fits their schedules? Do they know who the “champions” are who can help them if they get stuck? Is ongoing training and support supplied and encouraged? These are also important questions to think about before you purchase new software or technology, as you’re likely to need help from the vendor as well as internal support down the road.
6. Ask those using the tool for feedback
Finally, if it’s not working, you need to know, and know quickly. Check in with team leaders and employees early on to see how the transition is going. Hopefully, if you’ve done your homework, you should be seeing positive results, but if you’ve given it some time and the feedback is that it’s not working (and you know this is not just feedback from one or two change-resistant employees), then you need to go back to the drawing board and look for alternate solutions or look at more training. There's no use in trying to “make it work,” however, if it’s not doing what you or your employees need it to do.
Following these steps can help your organization and your employees adopt and adapt to new technologies and software and more successfully navigate change. It’s not always easy to implement change, but some upfront work, consulting with your teams, and knowing your needs will help you with the process.
Learn more about why being technology agnostic can also help in this related post.