It doesn’t matter how good your unified communications system is, it won’t work if your employees can’t get on board. A group can only move as fast as its slowest member. The way you choose to roll out your unified communications technology to employees could have a massive impact on the company.
What if Susan in accounts hates the new payroll software and everyone's wages are delayed? What if David can’t set up a conference call when you have an important client waiting? What if Monica doesn’t understand the app for logging shipment details and your entire stock has left the warehouse and vanished into the ether? Embracing technological change comes easier to some than others and it’s something that most businesses can’t afford to get wrong. It's not just a question of operational ability for your company but also staff morale.
Here's what you might want to consider for your employees as you make changes in the work environment.
Engage your employees early
The earlier you can get your staff on board the better. If employees have been meaningfully consulted on what will make their working lives better, then they may be able to help design and implement the new system. If they can understand the benefits of the system in advance of its installation, they are less likely to reject it out of hand. Most employees will fail to adopt technology they don’t see as an improvement on what they currently do. Although it may be obvious to an outsider what the benefit of new technology is, workers are often reluctant to let go of comfortable systems that feel safe. The smartest leaders leave plenty of space for those experiencing change to make choices. Invite them to meaningfully participate in upcoming changes and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.
Find your champions
It can be lonely being the single voice for change. Most employees will struggle if there is a disconnect between the people instigating change and those who have to implement the change. If there is resistance to a new system being introduced, then try and find champions. Look for key members of staff who have significant social influence and who will defend changes in casual conversation when the issue is brought up away from the ears of management.
Explain why you're updating
It may be a good idea to explain why technology is being updated and what the company stands to gain. It may be absolutely clear to senior management but not immediately obvious to those who work at lower levels. If change feels like you’re asking your staff to throw themselves off a cliff blindfolded then human nature will see them sticking rigidly to the status quo. “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” rings true at this point. That inertia can be overcome but employees will need to feel safe. Getting them to see the real-world benefit of applied technology is crucial. Showcasing what it can do for them and how it can make their job easier will help get them on board earlier and with greater levels of enthusiasm. Give your staff absolute certainty, processes, and timetables. If you lead with confidence, they will follow.
Let them vent
Understand that it’s natural for human beings to be resistant to change. When you let your staff express their feelings openly, you’ll learn about problems that you didn’t anticipate. Too many changes at once can throw workers into confusion very easily. Think about guiding employees from inertia into something that is new and different but still feels familiar. Baby steps. Always avoid change for change’s sake. Letting your employees share their hesitations and concerns in an open forum allows you to identify which of your staff might need additional support.
Set up training and ensure that some members of the senior management team are there. Morale of lower-level employees can often be boosted when they perceive that change is happening to everyone. Managers should ensure that they blend with the group and share their concerns and vulnerabilities as well as strengths.
Different learning styles
Some employees will take to new technology like a duck to water, others are going to struggle a little more. Be sure to understand how different people like to learn and tailor sessions appropriate to their needs.
Some employees may be entirely self-sufficient and keen to test the limits of new technology, others may be under confident and need to be shown how to set up and use new cyber-tools from scratch. These people may need to be drip fed the information in bite-size chunks. Getting staff to help each other can be a good way of cementing team-bonds and letting people make mistakes is crucial.
Consider casual mentoring
If an employee is really struggling with a new piece of software or technology then it might be time to bring in some casual mentoring. The person may feel apprehensive about being asked to attend additional formal training so instead consider informal mentoring. Be sure that this is handled sensitively.
Incentivise the technology
Companies might want to consider incentivising the technology use. If job requirements can be connected to understanding and being competent to use a particular system or technology, then there can be a clear route to promotion or a pay-rise. knowing this may help motivate even the most sluggish anti-change member of any team.
Don't forget new employees
Rolling out change to existing employees might be difficult, but unless you are able to roll out a good on-boarding programme afterwards then all your good work may be lost. New employees can be intimidated by office environments full of technology they aren’t sure how to use. Ensure that knowledge is cascaded from existing experts to new employees. Make sure this happens in a timely way to ensure that new members of staff don’t develop counterproductive habits.
Resistance to change is a very human trait and we all experience it across our lives.
Implementing a unified communications system into your workplace can vastly improve your workforce productivity but this won’t happen if you cannot get your employees on-board with technological changes and inspired to embrace the future.