Imagine this scenario: an executive at your company has decided to roll out a new technology to the entire organization; say, an expense reporting system. As a business leader, you’re responsible for implementing this change in your department and helping your employees adjust. The decision may be out of your hands, but it’s your responsibility to ensure your team’s adoption of this technology, and you’ve been given a hard date that it’ll be launched. Your team is wondering how this will impact their work and they’re looking to you for answers. It’s a difficult position to be in, and while it’s natural to be a little worried or scared, you have to lead your employees to overcome their fear of change to embrace the new system. So, how do you do this?
When you have planned adjustments to enhance your business processes, you can minimize your employees’ fear with some proactive steps. Researchers have found that the most common fears about workplace change are caused by a fear of the unknown and a lack of information. These both point back to the idea of not understanding the situation and what the future holds for the company and employee roles.
Communication is one of the keys to effectively introducing something new into the workplace. If your company is implementing a new technology solution, you want to understand why they’re making that choice. Change just for the sake of change is pointless. You have an established work flow and don’t want something that will disrupt that process. The technology should enhance your business process, not make it more difficult. You want to understand how this solution will help you and your employees work better. You want to understand the impact it will have so you can plan ahead and not have to be reactive. Talk to the decision-makers about the technology solution and determine exactly what will change so you can prepare your employees.
When Jamie Roush, Crime Analysis Unit Manager at the Jacksonville Florida Sheriff’s Office, decided she wanted to implement a social solution that would eventually be available agency-wide, she strayed away from the top down method of change management that often happens within law enforcement agencies. When Roush decided to implement a social solution, she made the officers and detectives an integral part of the change. She showed officers the technology, highlighted the benefits it offered them, and provided full access. Once some of the officers started using social, Roush made Socialtext their central knowledge portal and its use became a part of the officers’ daily work flow. By explaining the reasons and benefits of the technology, and then allowing employees to play a critical role in making the change, the Sherriff’s Office was able to make a necessary switch to social, which achieved the desired result of increased communication and collaboration.
If the mere mention of the word change makes your employees break a sweat, don’t worry; it’s a very common fear and you can help them get past it. Figure out why your employees are scared and then make strides toward calming those nerves. If they’re worried about how their roles will be altered or their business processes will shift, talk with the decision-makers. Be proactive so you have time to prepare your employees for these changes and can show them how the new technology will augment their existing work flow.