By: Lou Monaghan on January 9th, 2020
Fear Of The New: Change Management And Adopting New Technology
I have recently spent much time researching information on Tesla's new Cybertruck (yes, yes, I pre-ordered one, I'm that kind of guy.) The initial reaction to Tesla's latest offering was mostly negative but became more positive over time, as Matt Ferrell pointed out in his Undecided blog. Matt’s points made me think of how many times when introducing new systems I’ve encountered opposition to solutions I felt should be a slam dunk sell to the end-users.
As integrators, we are, quite literally, in the business of change, and resistance to the optimizations of both workflow and introduction of automation is a natural part of that business. For the horror genre fans in the crowd, H.P. Lovecraft famously stated that "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."Resistance is Futile, You Will be Assimilated
It is critical to understand that your team's fear is an entirely natural part of the human experience. As Matt Ferrell writes in his blog, "It shouldn’t be a surprise to everyone, because it’s been well studied and documented, but humans hate change. We’re hardwired in our DNA to fear new things because those new things might want to harm us.” Here are five points to help you understand and mitigate that fear:1. Realize you've had time to acclimate
It can be quite frustrating to deal with your end-users panic at the change you're introducing. Still, it is essential to remember that you have had time to acclimate and accept the changes and have a clear vision of the benefits they represent. Be understanding, compassionate, and know your users will begin to see the benefits too. The next time you work on a project, interview your end users a month after the solution is implemented and ask if they'd like you to roll the changes back. You'll likely find that most of your users would be horrified at the thought, and not just because it's yet another change but because they've had time to see the advantages of the new system.2. Communicate
Communication is key. Make sure your end-users stay in the loop and are aware of what changes are to come. Involve key players early in the process so that they can become ambassadors for the change. Most importantly, communication must be bi-directional. Listen to your ambassadors' feedback and make sure they know you’re listening!3. Sell the desirable features, stay positive and confident
While communicating with your team, ensure they understand what the benefits of the changes are. In a real way, you and your ambassadors are sales associates for the project. Staying positive and honestly addressing your team members' concerns and demonstrating how the system handles those concerns will build their confidence and speed acceptance. If you and your chosen ambassadors do not have absolute confidence in the solution you are selling, address those issues before presenting to your team. Few things will undercut your ability to implement a solution than your end-users sensing that you have no faith in what you are offering.4. Training and new skill development
Ensure that you have a plan in place to train your team on the new system and give them time to develop any skills that may be required. Nothing exacerbates a person's fear more than feeling that they don't understand and can't use the solution. Plan for more time than you think is needed to make sure the team is comfortable with their new responsibilities and have the skills required.5. Walk the talk, practice what you preach
If you are in a position to use the new system, you absolutely must use the system. Team members viewing senior staff ignoring or working around new systems will completely undercut their confidence and obliterate any chances for the solution to become an accepted part of your workflow. Few things drive end-user frustration more than forcing them to use a system in which the whole team is not entirely invested.
About Lou Monaghan
Louis Monaghan, Jr. has been a Senior Systems Engineer since 2011. He began his professional career in the commercial print industry as a prepress professional. During his time in prepress, he was able to combine his love of print with a passion for computing and began automating manual processes to increase productivity. His knowledge of technology evolved alongside a growing industry, and Lou quickly became an expert in automating creative workflows. At IO Integration, Lou helps educate clients, allowing them to unlock the full potential of their software solutions, creating speed and efficiency wherever he goes.
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