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June 24, 2021

Smart Change Management Strategies for Tech Adoption

Welcome to part two of our three-part series on change management in adopting new staffing tech.

In part one we looked at the three most common change management failures: vendor choice, communication, and budget. In part two we’ll take these learnings, and move onto strategies that surround the change itself.

The challenge of making our change-resistant brains okay with – and ideally excited by – something new, unfamiliar, and potentially scary is a significant one. But with advice from three experts in the field, let’s take a look at the factors you should consider, and the strategies that work the best.

The top factors in employee tech adoption

In broad terms, three main factors affect an employee’s decision to adopt new technology:

  • Perceived usefulness: Will it make me better?
  • Ease of use: Will it make my life easier?
  • Peer influence: Are my colleagues on board?

Understanding these influences help you to put yourself in the user’s shoes. On an individual level, they want to be confident that the technology represents a step forward rather than a step back. On a social level, they take the opinions of their peers seriously, and would rather not be the black sheep.

On the individual level, it’s vital that you frame the new technology as an improvement on the norm, rather than a departure from it. Treat it as an addition to your current world; a spit and shine of what you already do. If the change is a fairly dramatic one, try to bring over as much familiarity from your old systems and processes as possible, like using the same language.

On the social level, it’s quite wild how much of an impact an early adopter or subject matter expert can have. “If a team member sits shoulder to shoulder with an early adopter, this front-row seat can get them really excited about the potential of the new technology,” says Lauren Jones, Founder of Leap Consulting Solutions.

The sooner you get those subject matter experts trained up, the sooner they can act as evangelists for the new tech, and the faster it will be adopted. These subject matter experts might be star performers, extroverts, or tech-heads. Even better, they might be your biggest naysayer, who you manage to win over with the new technology.

The antagonist-turned-evangelist is a character that Jones has first-hand experience in leveraging. “I'm going through an implementation right now with a client, and my greatest resistor has become my biggest fan. I got him engaged early, I let him lay out all his resistance on the table, then we got one amazing result from the new tech – one is all it takes – and he was sold.”

“Usually organizations have a couple of people who are passionate about technology, who love to be the early adopters, and who love to provide feedback” adds Maurice Fuller, Founder of Staffing Tech. “They're reasonably straightforward to identify – go to managers and ask who fits the bill, and they’ll usually point to one or two people who can end up being incredibly helpful.”

Depending on how your company is set up, it’s best to try and have an early adopter or subject matter expert in every vertical and/or geographical location.

Use early adopters as an informal R&D department

Once you’ve identified these early adopters, these subject matter experts, these tech-heads, you can form a proxy (and very affordable) R&D department.

By bringing together a few people who are really excited about new technology, you can not only test solutions that you’ve already found, but you can get this team to search for and test other solutions that could make your firm better, faster, and stronger. Perhaps you have a vendor that has a beta stage solution that you can try out for free. Perhaps you can weigh up a few different solutions, testing their UX and calculating their ROI, and offer this intel to the CFO or CEO. If you’ve done the groundwork in proving a solution, the C-suite is far more likely to buy into it.

“These informal R&D groups are excellent at sniffing out the pitfalls” adds Dominic O’Connor, CTO at Able. “If you throw a new technology out to the entire company, you’re more likely to see an immediate negative reaction. Testing with a small group is a safer bet. Instead of being flooded with complaints from across the organization, your small test group will say ‘oh, this doesn't work’. Your vendor can then reply to this feedback, often with something like ‘if you configure it this way, or change your workflow a little bit, then it'll work’.”

Jones agrees. “I always recommend a very paced rollout for technology implementation, because if something does go wrong – and something will always be configured sideways or backwards, no matter how careful you are – you’ll minimize the impact of the issue, and the negative perceptions of it.”

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Choosing features, maximizing efficiency

Your relationship with a technology vendor must be a partnership. Both parties need to understand each other, and where the other is trying to go. If your long-term goals don’t align, you’ll find yourself on a road to nowhere.

Finding such a relationship can be a more difficult prospect if you’re dealing with particularly large vendors that may well offer exactly what you need, but offer a whole lot more on top, creating plenty of white noise around your decision. ATS’s, for example, are constantly adding features to their solution, most of which you may never need. In these cases, you’ll need to rely on a strong sense of where you’re going and what you need, so that you can focus on the specific areas and elements of the solution that will be of use to you.

Choose configuration over customization. The more you configure a solution, the more future features you'll be able to apply. If you've customized your tool to death, new features may not be compatible with those customizations, and you'll be stuck with your current – and increasingly outdated – iteration of the tool.

While change can feel uncomfortable, the implementation of new technology can be an opportunity to breed real and meaningful change that goes beyond the solution itself. “You can't take an old analog process, digitize it, and think it’s going to be more efficient,” instructs Jones. “You have to re-evaluate your workflow and your processes. You can’t just turn on automation. Bots will do what you tell them to do. If you're already inefficient, you're going to teach the bot inefficiency. You don’t want to automate bad stuff.”

Rethink Your Processes

Technology is an opportunity to rethink processes and how you do business, so take a moment to yourself ‘why?’ Why does this process exist? Why do we do it this way? What is the benefit to the customer? What is the benefit to the candidate? Is this a good process, or are we just comfortable with it?

The harsh truth is that comfort won’t push your organization forward – change will. In part three of this series, we’ll walk through the realities of the change management process, and the four steps that will seriously enhance the likelihood of tech adoption success. Check it out here.