Bringing new technology into your business, with the aim of making employees’ lives easier and your business more successful, can be a major project. It also costs time and money. As with any change, people experience a range of emotions and often persist in following old ways of working, resisting new tools or trying to work around them. This article explores the four stages of change and explains how you can effectively manage the introduction of new technology to your business and engage your employees in the process.
Stage One – Challenging the Status Quo
Before change happens, employees are used to the status quo: they understand your existing technology and feel comfortable and in control. They may not see the need for enhanced cyber security or back up and recovery systems.
Share Your Reasons for New Technology
Springing a last-minute technical revolution on your employees could send some people into shock while others may go into denial and resist the impact of the change.
Don’t forget, you’ve had plenty of time to consider the changes, understand the reasons for them and accept that change is necessary. Extend this opportunity to your employees by explaining your reasons and communicating your strategy.
Sell the Benefits
It’s all too easy to consider the introduction of new tech from a business perspective. While network security may be of paramount importance to you, it could be less of a concern for your employees. Instead, flip your reasoning on its head and show employees what’s in it for them.
Consider issues that really annoy employees, like having to remember multiple passwords or logging in to numerous systems. If you’re introducing cloud services, one of the biggest benefits for both employees (and the business) is the introduction of single sign-on. If being bombarded with too much email is a major employee gripe in your organisation, explain how instant messaging or work social networking sites like Yammer improve communication. Your provider should have statistics or case studies that will help you show the benefits.
While this new approach will improve business cyber security, you can position the change as a response to employee frustrations, showing your business to be one that listens, cares and responds to feedback.
Set Out Your Plan
Help employees grasp your planned change by sharing a high-level project plan. This will help your teams understand what’s happening and when making it more likely that they’ll be cooperative with the change.
Stage 2 – Conquer Fear
Allow Freedom of Expression
Being busy and having to work with new technology can be very frustrating as people will initially feel they have been slowed down or that there’s another hurdle in their way. At this stage, employees may be fearful of, or angry about, the change.
Give people the opportunity to express any concerns about your plans. People who work with technology every day can be better placed to identify issues, such as problems with network security or communication, and they may have valid points you can action.
Identify Your Change Ambassadors
Not everyone will be change-averse. Recruit those who are on board from the beginning to act as change ambassadors who will gain the support of others who are more resistant.
Explain Exactly What the New Technology Is
Implementing cloud services, for example, sounds like a massive and incomprehensible change. Soothe frayed nerves by explaining that, in reality, employees will see very little difference in terms of programmes they use regularly. If you are replacing software like Microsoft Office with the cloud-based Microsoft 365, the programmes are like-for-like and familiar (albeit more up to date).
Explain that moving to cloud services is more to do with storing systems and information on a server that can be accessed on any device away from the office, giving your team the opportunity to work more flexibly.
Stage 3 – Enable Employee Exploration
Engage Your Employees with Training and Support
Smooth the way by supporting employees with training to help them understand the new technology and reduce their fear. Explaining how tools work will give them the confidence to use new technology knowing that they can’t break the new systems. At San-iT, we create a structured training plan for our client’s teams, working with them one to one or in small groups to help them get up to speed quickly and make the most of the new technology.
Be Open, Answer Questions, Share Examples
Once employees accept change is coming, they start to want to explore what this means for them. Be ready to answer questions and give people the opportunity to understand how the new technology will work.
Provide examples of how other organisations have used cloud services to boost collaboration and productivity. You could even challenge your teams to find ways to make the technology work for your business.
Take a look at our case studies and share those that are relevant with your team.
Stage 4 – Committing to Technology
Build Confidence with a Smooth Transition
Now your team has accepted and engaged with your digital transformation, you need to build their confidence. A flawless transition will help with this process by building employee confidence in your decision.
Employee Advocacy Embeds Change
As employees begin to use the new technology, shine a light on those who are taking appropriate steps or using it to maximum effect.
You can even use your new cloud-based platforms to communicate success stories with employees. Set up a group in Yammer, for example, for employees to share tips or provide a separate space to express problems or challenges. Get your employee advocates to manage these groups and explain what to do for collaborative working that demonstrates the benefits of the new systems at the same time.
With enhanced back up and recovery in place, you’ll also feel confident letting your teams loose.
Report on Progress
Good technology providers ensure they report on the progress being made with the implementation. Get access to reports that show who’s using which tools and identify those trying to work around new systems. Ask for reports on how the new technology is improving productivity or working practices. For example, how much junk email as been blocked? Or, how much has internal email been reduced by adopting new instant messaging technology? The statistics provided will allow you to evidence the benefits of the change, increasing buy in from your team, and help you provide additional support to anyone who’s struggling.
A technology refresh gives employees the tools they need to communicate more effectively, collaborate and be more productive. An effortless implementation based on clear communication with a smooth changeover will give employees the confidence they need to get the most from your investment.
Many businesses will be required to improve their processes and implement new technology due to the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations in May 2018. To find out what changes will be required and how this will affect your business, read our latest article General Data Protection Regulation & your Business