It’s a familiar scenario for many businesses: after investing countless hours and thousands of dollars in new technology, your team isn’t embracing the new system. That’s disappointing (and surprising) when the new technology was specifically designed to make their jobs easier and increase productivity.
Although it’s surprising, it’s common. The Rand Group reports that IT projects are notorious for their high failure rate, estimating that up to 70% of technology projects fail to deliver on desired results. The reason? Users don’t adopt the technology. Given this statistic, if you want your new technology project to be successful, you’ve got to get your team’s buy-in.
For example, just changing the email marketing software your company uses could create resistance from employees, causing them to fight to hang onto the old software. Although the final decision is yours to make and you don’t owe an explanation, you need a plan to get your team on board. This begins by understanding what you’re up against.
Change is disruptive to a person’s routine
It’s wishful thinking to believe your entire staff will be quick to embrace a new methodology or system on their own. People naturally prefer what’s familiar and resist change.
Psychology Today makes a good point by describing the role inertia plays in keeping people from embracing change. The article describes inertia as “a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.” This tendency is the reason it’s so difficult to stick with a new diet or exercise routine. It’s actually the body’s way of maintaining homeostasis, as it considers any major change a potential threat to survival.
The act of following a familiar routine makes people feel confident in what they’re doing. In the workplace, the automatic nature of routines keeps people on track without having to think too much. Disrupting that routine can be jarring, no matter how much change is warranted.
Users need to be guided to adopt changes
When it comes to IT changes, most people need to be encouraged and convinced to embrace them. It’s not enough to provide your team with a list of benefits, though. They need to develop an authentic desire to adopt the new technology. This takes a team effort.
Your solution begins with formal training for everyone
Collaboration experts at iVCI believe change management is at the heart of overcoming resistance. Especially when you’ve spent money on big technology, like a state-of-the-art videoconferencing setup.
Although they say everyone needs to be trained, they recommend not utilizing your IT team to train staff. “All end-users should be trained,” iVCI says. “People can only use the technology if they know how, and although the IT staff may feel it’s intuitive to operate, it’s not. That’s ‘life through their lens,’ and that’s exactly why they’re not the right resource for delivering training.”
Training isn’t effective in generating user adoption when it’s left to installers, engineers, or a technology partner. A technical background isn’t the skillset needed to achieve a successful adoption rate. People with instructional design and customer service skills are the people who should be conducting the training. In other words, the type of trainer you need is an educator – not a programmer.
Start with your department heads
No matter what strategies you employ, you want to get your department heads on board first. That way, they’ll be able to support you in getting the rest of the team on board. Your department heads should have the ability to move forward in support, even when they’re not entirely sold on the technology yet. They should be able to answer questions and address concerns from team members without inserting their own resistance into the conversation.
As this user adoption guide from Microsoft outlines, the first step to getting users on board is to build anticipation and excitement. This might involve sending emails months in advance to get people prepared for the upcoming change. You need to market your new change to your staff members like you’d market a new product to the public.
How is your new technology going to make things easier?
Another important component is simplifying processes. Users want new processes to be easier and simpler than what they’re giving up. If something looks too complex, they’ll be slower to adopt it.
It’s also important to set specific goals and communicate results. How will the change improve processes, productivity, and reduce expenses? Establish targets your whole team will be on board with, making sure to connect these goals with the new change. Simplification will overcome resistance to adopting new technologies, and your new technology project will have a fair chance at being successful.