Author: Paul Henriques in: Business Solutions
Getting people to adopt new ideas can be a challenge. Even if you nullify the fiscal cost of an item, there is the problem of a new way of doing things that is often met with suspicion. Research has shown that change is most effectively spread from peer to peer in a social group. Using traditional approaches only works if it helps the subordinates achieve their goals by their own choice.
In other words, to implement a new way of doing things, you don’t need a boss to yell at the crew until they do it the new way (poorly). This leads to users being aggravated and working against type. Eventually, the new way is proven to be ineffective and the team goes back to the old ways.
There are better ways to ensure your staff take up your new mantle. To improve adoption, you need your new system to have champions, easy accessibility, clean user ownership, and tangible benefits.
Usually, around 10-20 enthusiastic people in a company of 100 are enough of a start. These are your early-adopters and trainers. Those that can see the benefits of the new way and are quick to pick up and show others why it can help them. An added benefit of starting with a small group of motivated individuals is that you are also lowering your start-up training costs.
Users have to be able to easily pick and use the new method, with no punishments for misuse and no rewards for usage. You want to allow the natural improvement to the method to be a clear indicator to others on how it makes their life better without punishing them for not using it, using it slowly, or breaking something on accident. There should also be no great rewards for doing a good job, since a better method will be its own reward with an improved workplace.
Staff need to be made aware that they own the change and the processes it changes. The new system is better and only their feedback and usage can improve it and their work processes even more. Allow users to take ownership of their process and how to implement the new system within it in a way that streamlines their day.
As hinted at above, the goal of any system that you are implementing is to improve the workplace and work processes of your staff. These are real benefits, with things like:
Once you are able to make the above understandable to your staff, the system will naturally evolve and improve other parts of your operations as well as it quickly spreads to the next group, and so on.
When you provide your staff with the tools and incentive to change, you will see the scale of slow and steady improvements at your firm. This starts with the tools to do what they wanted to improve to begin with and empowering them to be the heroes in their own story. As small changes show success, this improves the perceptions of others that take on the new reality of change as they start creating new avenues for positive change that achieve even greater impact.
It is imperative that managers and executives work to avoid imposed change on everyone at once. Smaller iterations may start small, but they build more successes and enthusiasm that floats positive change longer, thus convincing fence-sitters of the benefits of the new goals. By convincing staff to adopt the new, instead of coercing, you can see improved success in implementing new ways of working at your firm, from a new technology to improved procedures.
In the final analysis, successful transformation is about empowerment, not persuasion. By designing a resource that those who believe in change can co-opt for their own purposes, you can unlock powerful forces that enable change. Successfully transforming your firm requires that you empower your staff by designing a way where those that can champion the change can take ownership of their own possibilities.
Or to put it simply, change starts. First little by little, then a little faster, and before you know it, the everything is better than before while feeling like it is always as it should have been.
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