You know the drill: after months of research and free product trials, you’ve finally found a new software tool that fits your company goals. What an exciting time. You can’t wait to introduce this new, streamlined system, which if your calculations are correct, will save not only time and money but help boost morale in your workplace.
But there’s a snag. Somehow, despite all the effort you’ve put into selling the new tech to your team, many of your colleagues don’t share your enthusiasm. In fact, they seem to be actively resisting it at every turn.
Adopting any sort of new technology can seriously stress people out. The mere mention of software updates is enough to put many employees on the back foot, and convincing the whole team to get behind the move is often a hardwon battle.
The fact is that for many people, the idea of having to learn an entirely new way of doing their everyday jobs is daunting. It’s understandable. Chances are when they started their career they had to put in a lot of time and effort to understand the technology they were expected to use. Being asked to learn yet another program can feel disruptive and unnecessary.
After all, everything runs fine as it is, doesn’t it?
Faced with having to revert to a beginner’s mindset, it can be very tempting to turn a blind eye to everyday irritations.
Pre-empt the “why”
“Sure, measuring everything manually takes all day, and often leads to inaccuracies, but that’s just the way it is. It’s always been this way. Why upset the status quo?”
Why upset the status quo is exactly the question you need to answer before asking your team to commit to new technology. Best believe you better have a very good reason for inconveniencing them like this!
From the start make sure everyone understands how you landed on the software. Who else is using the technology and benefiting from it? What other options did you look at before settling on this one? Showing your team the process behind the decision helps them feel part of it, and hands them back a little of the control they might feel they’ve lost.
Try not to go overboard on this part – people don’t need to know the URL of every single review, blog post, or Youtube video you visited during the research period. Instead, pick out the most compelling parts, and if possible, share success stories by people in similar roles to theirs.
Find your champions
Unless you’re very unlucky, you’ll probably have at least one person in your team that welcomes technical growth. Perhaps they’re particularly adept with computers, or maybe they know other landscapers who have already started using (and loving) the software. Either way, these guys and gals are going to be a huge asset as you start rolling out the new system.
Make sure these people are firmly on your side by giving them one on one training and making sure they know you value their enthusiasm. Often their opinions about the changes will carry far more influence than that of a manager, especially on matters that affect people’s everyday work.
Offer flexible training
Providing effective, accessible training is the most important stage of ensuring a smooth transition period. It’s important to remember that everybody is different, and every person on your team will have their own unique learning style. What works for your designer might be completely wrong for your estimator, so it’s crucial to make sure you cater to everyone.
With so many staff to train, how can you possibly ensure everyone gets what they need?
One of the most popular learning theories is Howard Gardner’s Seven Learning Styles, which puts people into one of 7 categories, based on how they process new information. Read up on the different styles, and consider how you can incorporate elements from each into your training.
For example, visual learners benefit from seeing the information. Use flow diagrams, illustrations, and data visualization to help them understand processes. Solitary learners, on the other hand, need time alone to practice new skills. People in this group will benefit from set tasks which gives them the chance to play around with the software in their own time.
Whatever your training looks like, try and make it fun for your staff. Order pizza, set fun goals, and avoid shoehorning a training session in right at the end of a busy workday.
Remember, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Learn on the job
The quicker you can get your team using your new software, the better. The truth is they don’t need to be experts in order to begin and the more hands-on experience they have the better. The trick here is to demonstrate that messing up is no big deal. So what if it takes longer the first few tries? That’s how we learn.
The important thing is to minimize the crossover period between your old system and new software. It sounds brutal, but by forcing people to work through teething pains will make the transition smoother in the long run.
Be available to answer questions, and if one person approaches you with an issue, make sure you send the solution to everyone on the team. This kind of pre-emptive explanation is a great remedy for people suffering in silence.
At the end of the day, nothing stands still. Implementing new technology is an essential part of progress, and is well worth the short-term clunkiness. Be patient but firm with your team, and remain resolute on the benefits the new software will bring.