As businesses implement technologies to transform their operations, the effectiveness of technology adoption by employees has a direct impact on success. Some businesses might choose a languid pace to minimize resistance, hoping that would ease the fear and stress that come with the transition. Change management remains a challenge despite employees’ own embracement of digital experiences in their personal lives.
The Amazon Go store in Seattle is an example of how state-of-the-art technologies change job roles. Shoppers can ‘grab and go’ without the need for checkout. For Amazon, former investments in checkout lanes, shopping baskets and cashiers are replaced by machine learning software and hundreds of cameras above the store shelves. You find no cashier in the store but employees who help customers find items and troubleshoot technical problems. At the same time, the backend support required differs from a regular store.
To expedite the transition for employees, there are several things you can do.
- Deliver undisputable benefits
To position the new technology in a positive light, you ought to make sure that the new solution will make the employees’ work easier. Often, the business focuses so much on the technology and ends up fitting the business to the solution, rather than designing the technology to work for the business. Click To Tweet For example, a web-based loan application is meant to shorten the turnaround time for small loan applications. The goal is to capture all the required information from the applicant so that minimal human intervention is needed. The converse would trigger manual follow up by the loans department, which could be more problematic than the existing approach. Get input from those who do the work today so that critical information and pain points are addressed. You want the new solution deliver benefits to stakeholders externally as well as internally.
- Give no option to turn back
This might sound harsh and risky operationally but it is the best way to do a complete transition. Leaving open an option to do things the old way gives employees an impression that they don’t need to make an effort to learn the new technology just yet. For example, the introduction of a business intelligence tool for managers to access the monthly results. This removes the production and distribution of a physical report. You need to ensure that any work associated the physical report is discontinued. If not, those who drag their feet in learning the new tool will resist the transition as long as they could.
- Provide the necessary hand-holding
In the early days of the transition, there might be productivity erosion due to the learning curve. Some employees might be quick to reskill. Others might require more hand-holding along the way. Determine whether it is a lack of confidence, a lack of the new skills required, or simply resistance to change. Develop a thorough plan to manage the needs. Be sure to allocate adequate resources and buffer time as part of the change management plan.
- Be open and honest about stumbling blocks
It is inevitable that there would be hiccups, minor or major stumbling blocks during implementation. Include them as part of your communication updates. It is better to acknowledge and share them because you demonstrate sincerity. However, you ought to also communicate a clear action plan and timeline in dealing with the hiccups. This makes a big difference in gaining trust and support. For example, managers and leaders need to act as role models. Their leadership influences the culture which affects the success of the transformation.
- Manage resistance with decisiveness
Resistance comes in different forms. It surfaces as debates on validity of the new solution, written objections, or coercion to hinder progress. Firstly, you need alignment and support from the executives. Secondly, identify individuals or groups who would pose road blocks. Devise a concrete plan to handle the varying levels of resistance. Have your project sponsor on side and be prepared to make difficult decisions. For example, a senior manager could portray a supportive image but he really opposes the change due to a fear of losing headcounts. You need to uncover the issue as early as possible and act swiftly to get his support or replace him if that is the best way. Otherwise, it is an energy sink-hole.
The rapid technology advancement will continue to exert pressure on businesses to adopt technologies faster and effectively. Apart from becoming more discrete with technology selection, you need to master the approach to get everyone on board and embrace the transition.