The incredible speed of change in Technology is affecting every organization, and there are many challenges for IT leaders to overcome, from updating legacy systems to determining the right technology for your business objectives. However, technology doesn’t operate independently within our organizations. People are using and managing systems at every stage.
As Steve Weston, CIO of Hays PLC, notes in his article for CIO: “It’s hugely important that IT leaders take charge in empowering employees to drive this change forward.”
That's easier said than done, especially if you’re so focused on the practical elements (such as integration) and rollout dates that you miss some of the critical steps to win over and prepare your workforce. The best tool is only as good as the person using it, so when you’re laying out your plan, make sure you take the right steps to prepare your teams as much as you prepare your systems.
Get Buy-In From Every LevelGetting people to accept new technology isn’t easy, and it's important to get your staff to buy in from the get-go. This might include investing in training to reduce the learning curve and doing your due diligence in order to pick the right tech in the first place.
I think the most important thing is to make sure people understand why the new technology is being introduced. How will it improve their ability to do their jobs, and what makes it the right tech at the right time? Getting buy-in is about more than just compliance -- it’s about winning people over to a new approach or tool.
The “why” is more important than the “what” or “how” when it comes to convincing people to embrace something new.
Communicate Regularly And ClearlyGetting a new piece of software ready to launch or rolling out new hardware is a significant technical challenge, but without good communication, your staff will be confused and unengaged when it comes time to use it. Uncertainty is the enemy of efficient change, and the best way to reduce uncertainty is to communicate often, clearly and consistently.
“The role of conversation in moving an organization forward cannot be underestimated,” Dr. Sarah Stebbins wrote in her 2017 Forbesarticle. She noted common issues such as company-wide transparency and a lack of input from employees as key issues.
Create a communication plan that aligns with your rollout, from identifying internal stakeholders, to deciding when you’ll send your first introduction email, to determining a schedule for training. A variety of communication methods is important as well. Some employees may respond better to a conference call instead of an email or vice versa.
Offer Ongoing Training And SupportTraining is important for any new program or process, but many companies plan only for initial training, missing the opportunity for ongoing support. Learning any new program takes time and repetition.
Jonathan Sharp emphasizes this in an article for Training Journal: “The organization should recognize onboarding new technology as a progressive ongoing process and the investment in training should reflect it.”
Take a multipronged, long-term approach to training. This should include everything from initial introductions to hands-on practice runs, all with accessible training documents, FAQs and contact people for your team to use as needed. This gives your teams consistent access to the necessary information so when they have questions or concerns, they know where to get answers. Reducing uncertainty and making it clear that you don’t expect everyone to be up to speed instantly will increase efficiency and trust, smoothing the way for your tech rollout.
Good change management requires a people-focused approach, so work closely with your counterparts in HR, marketing, procurement and senior leadership to ensure that your people strategy is as effective as your IT strategy.