Introducing new technology to your workforce is exciting—but not everyone welcomes it with open arms. The individuals making the tech investment decision and the departmental “champions” responsible for planning and even promoting the software change are confident their new business system will solve your challenges and open up new opportunities. You might say they see the project’s value prop in glowing lights…but what about employees standing in the shadows?
Some employees don’t think there’s anything wrong with your existing technology. They’re comfortable with what’s always been done—they know their processes (and even workarounds) inside and out and may be skeptical of automation, cloud computing, or any “newfangled tech innovation” that represents a major shift in thinking or behavior. Their buy-in is key to the success of your new software, however, so what can you do to help ease the transition for these employees? Here are some tips.
Assume Some Employees Will Resist Change
Forbes reports on a Leadership IQ quiz that asked professionals, managers, and executives to answer questions about their change management style. Results indicate that top executives are more optimistic about employees’ desire to “reach for something bigger and better” than the employees themselves, as percent 37% of top executives versus 45% of frontline employees believe that people generally like to remain in the status quo. In other words, frontline employees aren’t as ready or wiling for change as their bosses think.
While this doesn’t mean that these employees are actively resisting change, but the potential is there and executives need to be aware of the possibility that some individuals may complain, disengage, and/or fail to cooperate with any or all implementation activities.
It’s a best practice to include employees at all levels—not just managers-and-above—in a technology change effort. This is a great way to secure buy-in across the process and to explore, in collaborative settings, why the change is needed and how it will benefit everyone, from employees to customers. Learn more in 5 Tips For Creating Your Internal ERP Implementation Team.
Acknowledge That Change Is Difficult
Any change that shakes-up in the status quo and sets new expectations for employees and the way they work is bound to be met by at least some resistance. When it comes to technology change, employees may be even more anxious about adopting a new approach that they fear renders them obsolete. They may perceive that their new tools will be difficult to learn or use—and they may not understand the technology in the first place. This is an interesting concept, as your more progressive employees may be clamoring for your company to adopt cloud-based software!
People learn and adapt on different timetables, and your employee base is no different. This is why many companies undergoing a tech change enlist select rank-and-file employees to act as champions for their new technology. Aside from “getting” the technology and how it will impact their specific departments and workflows, these individuals also know the personalities of their coworkers and can help address their unique—and even quirky—concerns better than someone in IT or even HR.
Approach the Change with Optimism
While you should absolutely expect some degree of push-back (or at least some grumbling) from some employees, there’s no reason to resign the project to negativity. In fact, the positive example you set can go far to establish a culture of digital innovation and encourage employees to open their minds to new ways of working. The words and actions of the leadership team can greatly help shape employees’ reactions and attitudes regarding the technology change.
Engage employees at all levels early and often, appealing to their common sense of accountability and ownership in the company’s success. Their opinion and experiences regarding the technology change do matter—these employees may hold the legacy knowledge of the organization, after all—and in all of your communications, ask them to be part of the solution for taking the company to the next level.
At the end of the day, employees’ failure to go along with the change can result in low system adoption, ho-hum results, and a weak ROI. On the other hand, widespread adoption of your new technology can bring the benefits you’re expecting to light. Make sure you get your next project off on the right foot and contact us for expert guidance and support.