Businesses tend to only adopt technology if it improves processes or has a high return on investment. Since these new processes often show dramatic results, they quickly become important innovations across the industry. From an executive standpoint, this makes technology one of the best ways to quickly increase revenues. But elsewhere in the company, the change may not be as welcome.
Employees may turn a cold shoulder to technology for several reasons. Some may fear that increasing automation will ultimately put them out of a job. Others simply dislike having their routine changed, especially when they consider their current approach to operations perfectly fine and efficient. This can create resistance among a workforce when management tries to incorporate new technology that employees quite frankly don’t want. Implementation must be done very carefully to reassure workers and get them to buy into the new system.
Leadership can improve this process by embracing a few strategies proven to aid in the transition process. Here’s a quick guide for successfully instituting new technologies into a company’s workflow.
Before: Plan and Communicate
Before any company unveils plans for a major technological change, there needs to be a rigid plan in place. How it will be implemented — either rolled out over time or transitioned to all at once — needs to be determined, and a timeframe will have to be established. Once these plans are set in stone, employees need to be made aware of the changes, ideally with enough time to absorb and accept the new system.
For example, a trucking company employing fleet tracking will need to decide whether they want to roll the system out to a select group of truckers at first — giving them time to test the system and work out the bugs — or whether the entire fleet will adopt the technology at the same time. Lay out a schedule and stick to it to prove to workers that you are committed to the change.
Executing the Transition
During the execution process, problems and hiccups are inevitable. Don’t let them deter you from your current course. Workers are more likely to bristle against new technology if management displays unconfident attitudes. Be firm in addressing these bugs, making sure to learn from those mistakes, but never allowing them to push back your schedule. Even if certain problems create delays or other hang ups in fleet tracking that momentarily hurt productivity, remember the long-term gains in efficiency that the system is expected to provide.
Ultimately, any successful transition requires members of the workforce to embrace the new system. This isn’t always a quick process, but it can occur gradually and with a little incentivizing. Leadership should be on the lookout for workers demonstrating an acceptance or enthusiasm about the new technology. Those workers should be acknowledged and rewarded for their role, which essentially makes them employee-level champions of change.
Workers can also be offered incentives for fully participating in and supporting the new technology. Even if there are individuals who continue to drag their heels, they will eventually be persuaded to accept the technology as “the new normal” in the workplace.
Humans are creatures of habit, and change is rarely warmly received. To make matters tougher, workers will react against leadership-directed changes if they don’t believe in leadership, or if they don’t feel that leadership believes in its own actions. Stability and determination is the best way to quell these problems, so while it may not be an easy process, you’ll need to be firm in your direction when enforcing a major tech transition.