Achieving employee buy-in is just one part of change management, but it’s by far the most complicated and the part we’ve heard most leaders struggle with. So we thought we’d come up with some change management tips which focus on getting employees to buy-in to new technology — or even just new directions in leadership.
Technology staff in particular can be pretty set in their ways and love the technology that they use because in their minds “it works.”
This means they’re unlikely to openly embrace a new platform or piece of hardware, especially since many don’t feel they have the time to learn something new as a support organization.
Related: How to be a Leader…On Zoom Chats
But all of that negative attitude — the resistance to change which makes it difficult to actually make needed changes — can be minimized if leadership is wise.
“Technology is the only way to help promote and move change within any organization,” says Michael Goldstein, President, LAN Infotech.
“As a Managed Services provider, we either have 1000 tickets a day, or 100. When busy months change, management can go south, and it comes back to bite you.”
So how do you achieve employee buy-in?
Mark Geary, Managing Director at Rally Point Consulting, says the number one strategy is communication & engagement.
“If you force things on people, whether they like it or not, they’ll push back. The more you push things on people without their buy-in and engagement, the more they’ll resent you.
Geary advises leaders take the following steps:
Step 1 – find the biggest “naysayer”
It should be pretty easy to identify individuals who don’t like the new platform or plan, but there’s always one person who objects the most.
Step 2 – find the most positive person NOT on the executive board
It might be more difficult than the above step, but you also need to identify the person who is most positive about the platform, and the positive person should be a leader at the org at the grassroots level who is respected by peers — not one of the real higher-ups.
Step 3 – strategically communicate with both of them separately
“For the naysayer, I pull them aside to ask them why they don’t like the platform. I find once you let people be heard, they tend to be OK with things later on. Some will always complain for the sake of complaining, but it is human behavior to feel uncomfortable with change,” Geary says.
The lack of familiarity is what causes these stresses. Addressing the levels of frustration is key, and you do that by letting people speak, but knowing when they’ve spoken “too much” or too negatively.
Geary gave us an example of this process:
“Back when salesforce automation was in its infancy and we were taking salespeople and give them laptops with data entry etc., we were trying to get them to become better salespeople.
“It was deployed by an integrator who knew nothing about the company’s business and how the salespeople were selling. Then, they were forced to use it. I came in and asked how it was working for them.
“As I rolled across locations, all I heard was that it was taking too much time and that they didn’t like all the customer contact info being shared publicly in the company.
The ‘if you don’t use it, you’re fired’ method wasn’t working. So I built out a plan to do sales training. I told them how the system helped them put money in their pockets, explained how putting their contact info into the system would help them set up reports whenever their clients interacted with their company.
“This gave them insights and the ability to plan against middle-of-the-night calls. I ended up winning a recognition from the company and presenting on rollout strategies. I did nothing groundbreaking other than listen to the people who had concerns.”
When you’re deploying technology to an end user community, don’t deploy your technical stuff with non-technical people.
Don’t get a sales person to talk to an internal IT team. Make sure your “evangelist” is well suited to the people they are evangelizing to.
Your communication needs to be genuine
Everyone has experienced the “this is mandatory and it will be more work” directive. But sometimes, when leaders pick out new systems or platforms to use, there might be more work at the beginning, but it will lead to efficiencies down the line. It’s that very process you have to sell to employees without making it seem like…just more work.
People know when others are lying. Don’t lie to people, tell them that this will be more work if it will be, but assure them that this will end in efficiencies down the road.
Encourage “the super user” who will take more time at the start to learn a system inside and out to encourage a smoother transition period.
Geary recommends leaders consider these steps for ensuring genuine communication:
- “In every good project plan, there’s a communications template you can use – if I want to send a certain message, there’s a valuable vehicle to disseminate it, then there’s the feedback loop
- If you’re prepared with a template, then you prepare the “what if” answers to any what if questions you can anticipate
- The more you’re prepared with these, the more you can speak about things from the heart when you encounter it in the process
- Toastmasters – a public speaking group, anyone who hasn’t done it is a fool! it will teach you how to put thoughts in your mind, stop you from hesitating, and speak publicly with confidence
- Talk to your closest colleagues in sales to learn how to sell ideas better.”
Change management tips for the future
If your company or organization isn’t adopting any new practices right now, there are still a couple practices you should consider which will make achieving employee buy-in easier in the future.
Jeff Day, Founder, North of 10 Advisors, says documentation is key.
“When an organization chooses to document 20% of the processes to yield 80% of the results, they’ll be much more successful,” he says.
“There will be critical things that have everything to do with customer relationships that need to be documented. You don’t need to write reams and reams of processes down, just at least enough to get a framework for others in the organization.”
Education is a key part of onboarding
One of the most important change management tips involves embracing a culture of learning from the start. You need to train your staff anyway, so why not develop a mini–training program for each system they use?
Many of the products you use offer training courses or videos, so make it a point to use them.
Don’t forget to address soft skills. Emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and people management are necessary soft skills for your front-line staff.
Talk about education being a requirement, not an option. If education becomes part of your culture, it’s not thought of as an option anymore. In your company, strive to make sure everyone stays current and educated.
If you have staff that choose not to take part in continuing their education, they either aren’t a fit for your new culture or aren’t a top–line employee. You will likely need to address whether they’ll have an extended future with your company.
The same goes for new recruits: from day one, newbies should be aware of the fact that, at some point, they will be expected to learn new technology when the need arises, and that they’ll find success if they take that process seriously and embrace a can-do attitude.