How to Overcome Employee Resistance to Technological Change
Do your employees roll their eyes at the mention of new technology? Or worse, do they balk or flat out refuse to use your new software system?
For a lot of companies, resistance to change can hold you back from achieving digital transformation. In fact, 26% of companies cited ‘resistance to change’ as one of the top challenges for digital transformation initiatives, according to Altimeter’s 2018 State of Digital Transformation.
So, what's the key to successfully managing technology change? Here are some of the strategies that have worked well for our customers — and they’ll work for you, too.
How do you overcome employee resistance to technological change?
- Expect opposition
- Identify the root cause
- Communicate the change clearly
- Make it easy to succeed
- Get it right the first time
- Foster a sense of ownership
- Appoint champions
- Go for the quick win
- Shout your successes from the rooftops
- Enlist support from the vendor
1. Expect opposition
It’s normal to be nervous about a big change — whether that’s getting married, buying a house, or adopting a new technology at work. After all, change can be messy and uncomfortable. By anticipating resistance, you’ll be in a much better position to avoid potential problems.
2. Identify the root cause
Knowing why employees are resistant to change can give you a better understanding of how to overcome it. Some common reasons employees resist technological change:
- Job loss
- Fear of the unknown
- Poor communication
- Too much change at one time
- Organizational culture
- Lack of training
- Technology is too hard to use
3. Communicate the change clearly
You can communicate an upcoming change in a number of different ways: send an email, host a meeting, use your company communication tool, or schedule one-on-one conversations. One of our clients created a one-page internal "press release" introducing the new software system, explaining their goals, and showing how the system will be used across the company.
4. Make it easy to succeed
The biggest reason software implementations fail is because the product is too complex. Rather than choosing a system with the fanciest features and slickest demo, focus on the user and what they need from the system. Keep it simple and your employees will thank you.
5. Get it right the first time
As anyone who’s been through a failed technology implementation will tell you, the whole experience leaves a bad taste in your mouth. By planning ahead, choosing the right system, and following a disciplined and documented implementation process, you can set your project up for success the first time around.
6. Foster a sense of ownership
Encourage employees to make the new tool their own. This could be as simple as adding your company logo, or creating a custom dashboard view for specific groups of employees. These small touches can go a long way toward helping employees feel personally invested in the change.
7. Appoint champions
Champions will be your project’s biggest advocates, cheerleaders, and evangelists. They’re the people who will rally the troops and fight for the cause, pushing past resistance to change within your company’s culture. You can usually spot them because they’re the first to raise their hand to volunteer for a company initiative, lead a workshop, or be the ‘go-to’ person when colleagues have a question.If you can identify the champions within your organization and get them to lead the charge, you’ll be in a much better position to implement a technology change.
8. Go for the quick win
New technology has the power to transform your enterprise, but that kind of transformation can take months or years to achieve. Like starting a new diet or exercise routine, it’s easy to get discouraged if you don’t see results right away.
Instead, identify opportunities for ‘quick wins’ — improvements that can be implemented in weeks instead of months, but will result in immediate benefits. These quick wins will boost your employees’ confidence, build momentum for your project, and win over the nay-sayers.
9. Shout your successes from the rooftops
A lot of times, the negative voices in your company are also the loudest. Instead of letting doubts and complaints derail your project, focus on sharing your team’s successes. Consider doing some internal marketing, like creating a case study or video, to showcase your company’s success with the new technology.
10. Enlist support from the vendor
Whatever challenges your company faces, an experienced vendor has already been there and figured it out before. They know the potential roadblocks, where problems might occur, and how to avoid or overcome them. It’s why choosing the right vendor is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
Next up, learn what to look for in the vendor’s implementation program.