So you've recently implemented a new digital workplace, or you are planning to do so. That is great! But how do you convince end users to embrace the new solution? It sounds simple – just use the tools, right? But in reality, it is more difficult than that.
Implementing change in an organization, even when it is desperately needed, is often met with resistance. Many people buy into the old saying: “better the devil you know than the devil you don't”, and insist on sticking to their old ways, even if these are far from ideal.
Change is hard. It means a loss of control, and it strips away our routines and habits. It also creates anxiety, as people ask themselves all kinds of questions: Will I be able to handle the change? Am I going to have to work harder? Will I end up getting fired?
That’s why it is important you address these questions early on in the project, and not after roll-out. You want people to look forward to using the new tool, instead of dreading the moment they will have no choice but to comply.
The following tips & tricks are relatively easy to implement, and will set you on your way.
1: Go all-in and launch a marketing campaign
Present your story as an attractive marketing campaign, with its own logo, slogan and sticky brand name. Liaise with your marketing teams if you can. Choose your slogan and project name based on what you want to achieve with the new tool. Feel free to get some inspiration from other organizations and their change management campaigns.
2: Be aware of the ‘conflict of generations’
Once your story is clear, you can gradually share it across the business. The intranet, strategy meetings and receptions are great tools for this. A ‘conflict of generations’ is often mentioned as the main reason for the failure of change projects.
Typically, there are three to five generations working within any organization, each with their own preferred communication channels. If you only share your story digitally, you are likely to miss out on the part of your target group. It is much better to use a healthy mix of online and offline channels.
3: Start user training from daily activities
Many training courses start from the perspective of the tool itself – “SharePoint training”, “Office 365 training”, etc. A better approach is to use the day-to-day tasks of employees as your starting point – “How do I create new projects, and how do I follow up on them?” This will immediately link the new solution to concrete efficiency benefits.
You should also tailor the training materials to the role of the specific user as much as possible, because not everyone will need the same features. By focusing on what the tool can do for specific roles, you shorten the learning curve and increase the chance of a successful learning cycle.
4: Provide ‘dedicated’ resources
The introduction and roll-out of a new tool in your organization often requires a great deal of commitment from the parties involved. For certain stakeholders, such as the project manager and the ambassadors, it is a part-time – or even full-time – job. Research shows that ‘lack of dedicated resources’ is one of the most underestimated factors in change management, so it is important that the management is aware of this.
A possible solution is to provide a (part-time) replacement, or to temporarily outsource some tasks. By providing sufficient time and space, you ensure that the quality of day-to-day work does not suffer during the project.
5: Rise and shine!
Digital workplace projects are about changing the way we work – sometimes radically. And although technology is obviously key, the people who actually use it are the most important aspect of these projects. Because no matter how you look at it, without dedicated users a great tool is nothing but an empty shell.
IT is expected to take care of the technology side; everyone agrees on that. But IT managers can also play a key role when it comes to user adoption, which is often overlooked. These are some of the reasons why IT managers can – and indeed should – play a crucial role:
- Reducing the gap between IT and the business: Implementing a digital workplace is not an IT project, but an improvement project with strategic business objectives. IT is mainly an enabler in this context. Assessing the importance of user adoption correctly – and taking responsibility for it – shows that you are close to the business.
- Thinking of yourself as the CIO of the future and building bridges: The roll-out of a digital workplace tends to have many sponsors, from hr to communication. Someone has to be the linchpin or link between all these departments, and IT managers are in the best position to take up this role. But there’s more. By reaching out to the other sponsors, you show that you are a visionary CIO, who can bridge the gap between different stakeholders in the organization.
- Expanding the budget for the digital workplace: IT budgets usually leave little room for change management. But digital workplace projects are business projects, not IT projects. So it is only logical that part of the budget should come from the other stakeholders involved, such as hr and communication.
- Taking on a proactive and more strategic role: People often think of IT as being stuck in a reactive comfort zone. Coming up with a smart and pragmatic change management plan in a timely manner means breaking out of this comfort zone and adopting a proactive stance. This also demonstrates your strategic value.