How to Explain Change to Employees That Don't Get IT

Tech Insights for Professionals

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Are you attempting to roll out a more modern IT solution? Here's how to make sure everyone's on board, including workers who are not very tech-savvy.

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Change is an inevitable part of running any IT department. Given the pace of evolution in the area, there's always something new and better coming up that promises to revolutionize the way that companies operate.

Even if your business isn't the type to be on the cutting edge of the latest developments, there's always room for improvement. Old, outdated software is one of the most common bugbears of IT pros and end-users alike. Upgrading to newer versions or moving to more modern, cloud-based alternatives can therefore be one of the best things businesses can do to boost their productivity and ensure they are delivering the services today's customers require.

The challenges of new technology

This can often pose a problem for IT departments, particularly when rolling out new software to employees who are not tech-savvy and may be skeptical about the benefits of the new solutions. It's common to hear complaints along the lines of 'but this is the way we've always done it' or 'I won't be able to learn these new features' when introducing new technology.

According to one study by Willis Tower Watson, on average you can expect around a quarter of users to be enthusiastic about change, 50 percent to be fairly indifferent and 25 percent who will favor stability and may actively oppose new initiatives.

You can't afford to allow people to simply not use the new solutions though, as this will create confusion and can lead to errors if different people are working on different systems. Yet the more you try and force the issue, the more resistance you're likely to get. So how do you get this 25 percent of unwilling employees on board with new IT solutions?

Choose your language carefully

Getting people on board will often require a level of diplomacy - you don't want to imply that anybody who's wary of the new technology is old-fashioned or out-of-touch. They may have very good reasons for preferring stability over change and their concerns will have to be taken seriously.

It's a fine balance between not using overly complex language that non-tech savvy users will understand, and not sounding as if you're patronizing those who do get it. This is something that must come across through all your training.

Trainers therefore need to make sure they're tailoring their sessions to their audience, as well as taking steps to make it fun. Find out what people think works best - for example, sending less tech-savvy people on courses will likely not be the best use of resources if they require a higher level of starting knowledge.

Find some quick wins

Telling users about all the great benefits they can expect to see from the new software will be nowhere near as effective in convincing non-tech savvy holdouts as showing them. So when you're running initial trials, it pays to identify a few key short-term, real-world scenarios where the new solutions clearly outperform the old ones.

Users won't be very excited by abstract claims about how they'll be able to increase productivity by X percent, or save this amount of money for the company over the next five years. But demonstrate to them how an operation they perform every day can be done in half the time, and they're much more likely to be interested.

Make sure you're giving the right support

It's natural that there will be questions in the early days about how certain functions work, or what to do if a user makes an error. Therefore, make it clear that users can ask for help whenever they need it, by setting up a simple support system that allows users to place tickets and get a fast response.

You could even take advantage of the latest generation of chat bots to help employees get answers even quicker. Many programs now offer help tools that allow users to type in what they want using natural language, with AI interpreting this and providing relevant information.

Balancing the carrot and the stick

One of the best ways to encourage usage of new systems is to offer incentives. Consider setting up reward programs that offer points for reaching key adoption milestones. One tech company that promotes this is Salesforce, which suggests a range of incentives to help boost adoption of its CRM software.

Alternatively, there's also the more controversial approach of penalizing those who don't make the move. For example, if you're adopting a new sales platform, you could specify that only sales logged with the new system will contribute towards bonuses. However, this should be very much used as a last resort, as this approach could increase the perception that the new technology is being forced on users.

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