In the grand scheme of things, installing new technology – be it a new computer system, upgraded phones, or even access control like key locks – comes in two parts. The first one is the implementation, and it is concerned with making sure the machines and software work together as expected. While this is a time-consuming process, it is generally cut and dried. The next stage is a bit trickier, and it is adoption. In this part, the human beings that will use the system or service need to be not only made aware of how to use it, but also come to grips with the reality of the changes. Some will resist because they struggle to understand, others will resist merely because it is change. Below I will offer several tips to help smooth over tech adoption.
Find the Influencer Within the Office
There will be one person, typically one with some measure of seniority, who has mastered all of the tricks of the old system. Let’s call her “Janice”. She knows the workarounds, she probably trained half the staff on it, and she will be the most difficult to turn on to the new system. The upside here is she is vocal, and if you can get her to adopt the new system, the others will tend to follow along.
Get Them On Board
Recognize her knowledge of the system and probe her for ideas. Let her become part of the process. Ask her what she likes about the current system and what she dislikes. If you can take her ideas under consideration, do so. Too often systems that people use every day are changed by those who rarely use them. “Janice” uses the system, and she has intimate knowledge of her struggles.
Keep Simple Things the Same
There will be enough to learn as it is, so if you can keep some things like email addresses, employee numbers, or phone extensions the same in the new system as they were in the old one, it will go a long way.
Run Parallel System if Possible
The more time you allow your employees to become comfortable with the new system, the better off you will be. For phones, as an example, we have deployed both phones (the legacy system as well as the new one) on desks for a week or two. Generally, incoming calls will come to the older system (particularly before any line porting is complete) but they can use the new system for outgoing calls. This gives a way to practice the new phones while they still have the safety net of the old familiar ones.
Providing single sheet or half-sheet information pamphlets that will guide use of the new system can go a long way, too. It takes the burden off the employee to memorize all the new steps immediately. By printing a half sheet that can be tucked away on the desk discreetly, the employee can gradually become comfortable.
Day One Training
There should be some amount of training provided, and this can be via pre-recorded video or larger meeting. Identify the things that will need to be understood right away – the Minimum Viable Training Product. In the example of telephones, your employees will need to know how to answer calls, place calls (including any dialing pattern changes), dial other extensions, set up and retrieve voicemail, and transfer calls. If you can get the Day One training under 30 minutes, you are doing it right.
After the initial launch, there will still be a need for ongoing training, for power users and Subject Matter Experts. This training should occur about two weeks after Day One, because by then your employees will know what they don’t know and can have intellectual inquiries to make. This is the “Janice” training, to finalize her acceptance of the new system.
As you can see, adoption is more than simply mandating the employees use the new system. Ultimately, that’s what it boils down to, but by getting buy-in from key players, offering a shallow learning curve through job aids and training, and minimizing the overt and arbitrary changes, your headaches will be reduced and your employees will be happier in the end.