We’ve all heard the adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fit it.” But what if it is broke? Many organizations have tools and technologies that are no longer efficient or effective, but leaders are hesitant to make changes – even beneficial ones – that could disrupt operations.
This trepidation is understandable, but leaders should not let uncertainty stand in the way of progress. New tools and technologies can help improve quality, decrease speed to market, and reduce risk. Knowing how to guide employees through change can make the difference between a successful transition and one that fails to live up to its potential.
No matter the type of change at hand, here are some techniques to guide you through your next transition.
Remember It’s About People
ASQ, the global organization for quality management professionals, says some of the biggest challenges leaders face in change initiatives have little to do with the tools and technology themselves:
“Changes usually fail for human reasons: the promoters of the change did not attend to the healthy, real, and predictable reactions of normal people to disturbance of their routines. Effective communication is one of the most important success factors for effective change management.”
Explain the Need for Change
Your team will be less resistant to new tools and technologies if they understand why they are necessary. Harvard Business School’s Business Insights Blog says you will play a critical role in informing employees:
“They [leaders] raise awareness of the various challenges or problems facing the organization that are acting as forces of change and generating dissatisfaction with the status quo. Gaining this initial buy-in from employees who will help implement the change can remove friction and resistance later on.”
The most important thing to communicate with your team is exactly what’s being changed. Beyond that, you also want to explain:
- The reason for the change
- How the change will help the organization
- How the change will help individuals
- What is at stake if the change is not made
- What will be expected from each employee
Put Yourself in Your Employees’ Shoes
As an employee, which message would you prefer to receive in an email?
- Beginning next month, our department will be switching from one messaging system to another.
- Beginning next month, our department will be switching from one messaging system to another. The new system is more cost-effective for the organization and provides new features to help you communicate and collaborate better. We have decided to change this because the old system no longer meets our needs. I will email some instructional materials soon to help you prepare for the switchover.
Of course, the second message is longer but helps employees put the change in context.
If you’ve made a convincing case for change, your team will likely buy into the new tools and technologies. Every employee will rarely agree with the change, so the goal of buy-in is to get people to understand it, support it, and trust your leadership.
Track Performance and Celebrate Success
Throughout and after the change process, watch relevant KPIs so that you can see the benefits and share the results with your team. Employees will want to know that the time and effort they have invested in new tools and technologies are paying off.