A New System is NOT the End of the Change Process
Technology changes fast, and employees want a bite of the apple. These days a new smart phone, laptop, tablet, game, program or even a way of interacting with technology seems to be in the news almost daily. With this rapid change in the technology options on the market, it’s no surprise that employees want to work in places that have systems that allow their working lives to be as connected and ‘on point’ in technology terms as they are at home. They don’t want to be using legacy, out of date systems that take precious time and resources out of their day. They want technology that helps them to do their work not hinder it. How does fast changing tech affect business? Unfortunately, often due to cost, businesses have difficulty keeping up with the technology choices on offer. They don’t often have the time, or funding, to invest properly in new technology even when they do take the plunge to purchase new systems. This usually results in a brand new system implemented into an organization without appropriate training, development and acclimatization techniques to support that system and the employees using it. The result?
- Employees revert to using the legacy system because at least they know what to do with that, and although it takes forever to get output, they know it will give them the results they want, even if they aren’t as beautifully presented as the new system might produce.
- Or, employees can’t revert and they become despondent and find ways to avoid using the system at all costs, making the financial investment in something new a waste of precious resources.
- Or, employees become so frustrated and concerned at their lack of ability to use the system they begin taking sick leave, running late for work, or working much longer hours to get the job done. They become tired, demotivated and disengaged in the broader goals of the organization.
How do we get the most from the tech investment? There are many ways to ensure new systems do not disengage employees. Here are six things to take into account before and after purchasing that shiny new technology:
- Share the bigger picture. Why is this important? Do employees understand why changes are important to get to the new place? Have employees been involved in co-creating that vision? Do they buy into that change? If not, they are unlikely to give you the commitment needed to make the change a success. Get buy in from people starts before a new system is chosen. People need to feel they are part of that decision and understand why change is necessary. If change is forced on people, they are likely to reject it. If they are involved in making changes that make their lives easier and they are part of the bigger vision and believe in that vision, they are more likely to embrace change. Don’t spring it on people, order from the top and expect employees to fall in line.
- Do User Acceptance Testing. Make sure the system is what employees need.
- Who decided which new system(s) would be implemented? Senior leaders? IT?
- Did they talk to the people on the ground – those using the system – about the issues they had with the old system?
- Did they ask them what would be useful in a new system?
- Did they test that new system with ACTUAL users?
- Think KSA’s. Do assessments on the knowledge, skills and abilities needed, and then make sure people are trained and supported in developing their skills, to ensure the change is a success.
- Run systems in parallel. Changing from one system to another can be a challenge, especially if there’s nothing to fall back on if the new way doesn’t work. Consider running new and legacy systems in parallel to support people in making the change.
- Create a culture of learning and open feedback. Even after support and engagement upfront, if people are struggling with the change, ask employees what will help – engage with them at their level – each person will have different needs depending on their background so make sure appropriate resources are available.
- Remember, change isn’t easy. With all the support in the world, change is a challenge, and people will get things wrong; allowing people the space to make errors will help them to stay engaged in the process.
Final thoughts Ultimately, change will not be a success if your people are not joining you on the journey. Without employee buy-in at all stages of the process, the changes are unlikely to bring the desired results and may even end up costing the organization more in the longer term.
Rebecca is director of an employee development and writing consultancy. She has a background in delivering consultancy in business transformation and change and has a passion for making the workplace a brighter place to be. Rebecca is also an avid writer and blogger, both in the employee development field but also more widely in lifestyle, health, entertainment and business. Rebecca recently moved from London, England to the States, and now lives with her husband in the Greater New York Area. You can find Rebecca on Twitter at @rsg_consult, or read more of her work on her work blog http://redponder.com/blog/.