For most companies, changes in technology are inevitable. To stay competitive, you need to adopt innovations that will improve efficiencies, streamline existing processes, and better serve your customers.
As beneficial as technical change will be for your company, it can also have an initial negative impact on your colleagues and employees. You might be tempted to be philosophical with your team about the change, as in, “Something good will come of this in the end.” However, this approach might not be well received if you don’t also acknowledge your team’s concerns surrounding the changes.
Here are 6 strategies that will help you manage technology changes in your organization:
Analyze big data through digital technology
Change is driven in part by new and emerging technology. Technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), is poised to become commonplace in most organizations, leading to better data collection, the automation of repetitive tasks, and the ability to make decisions with immediate access to real-time, in-depth information.
Take the pre-emptive step of mapping how new technologies like cloud storage, machine learning and AI can simplify and enhance the flow of information both inside and outside of your organization.
Big data will also allow you to tailor change management strategies to individuals. Because of this, our ability to be agile and not too stuck on a process will be a key to future change success.
Be specific on what will change
In order to bring people onside with change, you need to be very specific on what new aspects of the change will affect their current role. Whether the changes will be procedural, require additional skill development, or a change to the way they thinking, adjusting to new technology won’t happen overnight.
This is why you need to take the lead in helping them see the end result or the outcome of the technological change. If you can’t see it, they won’t be able to see it either.
Be very specific and tangible about how you might expect people to think, feel, and behave with the new technology.
Be clear on what the impact will be
When a change occurs, we often try to “sell” new technology to our employees to get them on board. Even if you try to motivate them by promising streamlined systems, better efficiencies, and reduced waste down the road, employees will invariably be more concerned with what direct impact the change will have on them in the short term.
To solve this, address the impact by looking at the benefits of the change as well as the impact on your employees’ work. Impacts may be related to increased workload, additional training, or learning new business processes. Impacts that are clearly communicated can lessen the fear of the unknown.
Take positive action instead of using a positive spin
It’s easy to put a positive spin on a bad situation. However, by doing so you’re ignoring any negativity that might exist. This could shut down communication with the same people you need on your side when the new technology goes live.
Especially during multiple changes, you will have to face the negative before you can get out of it. While meeting with your team, have a timed discussion about the negative aspects to get them on the table, and then move into positive action.
The negative won’t go away at this point, but you’ve at least taken an approach towards positive action that will help your team transition a little easier through the change process.
Be open to hearing concerns
To effectively lead technical change, you’ll need to demonstrate an honest interest in people’s concerns. They’ll appreciate your open approach, and they’ll be more open to engagement as you coach, support, and problem-solve alongside them.
Keep in mind, however, that in many cases, people just want to be heard and don’t always expect you to solve their problems. You can quickly determine what they want by simply asking if they want you to solve their problem, help them solve the problem, or just listen. Out of the thousands of leaders, I’ve spoken to over the years, both in and outside of technology, almost everyone has said that their staff most frequently wants them just to listen during the change.
Just 15 minutes of listening can save days of grief down the road, so be sure to invest the time.
Encourage a shift in mindset
Guiding employees through technical change doesn’t just involve a shift in behaviour or learning a new skill. Effective sustainment of change requires a change in mindset.
Encourage a shift in the mindset of employees, whether it’s meeting customer needs, how work gets done, how they work with each other, or the organization’s overall business model. Gather stories, data, evidence, client results, and lessons learned, and communicate them verbally and in written form so people can clearly see the mindset shift you are asking for.
Above all, when changes happen within your company, provide clear, open door, transparent communication to ensure the smoothest change possible. Be as honest as you can be without being dishonest There will always be resistance, but as a change leader, you need to keep the dialogue going and provide support to your employees’ needs. You can do it!
The author is an Award-winning Change Leadership Specialist based out of Toronto. Views are personal.