Whoever uttered the phrase ‘change is as good as a holiday’ obviously never worked in professional Change Management. (Or if they did, their career was short-lived).
Change can be exciting, necessary, even visionary. But it is a big deal – especially in a business landscape when you’re making significant changes to the way employees work or communicate.
In our line of work, building SharePoint intranets and Office 365 cloud solutions, when it comes to User Adoption (UA) of a major system or process change, it’s common for providers to defer to (or at least trust) their client’s internal knowledge and not push back when they opt to self-manage it. It’s very common, as is clients reallocating UA or change budget to accommodate extra layers of technical complexity.
There are intricacies and nuances to every business environment, therefore we don’t propagate a one-size-fits-all approach. However there are a few common roadblocks we encounter throughout this process, which can be dealt with in a strategic manner:
1. Management prejudice
Even good leaders are not immune to a bit of white-knuckled fear around change, and this often presents one of the most challenging obstacles. Change prejudice can exist for many reasons – perhaps a project of a similar nature failed and is viewed as a ‘poisoned chalice’, or maybe a decision maker doesn’t fully understand the benefits of a new technology.
It’s vital to take these leaders on a journey when presenting a new solution or system for their approval. Also, getting them involved through activities like an intranet Executive Blog is also a brilliant way to have them lead from the front and encourage UA.
To steal a great line from Vanessa Ferguson’s guest blog (Vanessa is Director of Org Devt for our Change Management partners Apricot Consulting), cultures are the engine room of an organisation. However it’s hard to accurately define or evaluate a culture you’re already part of, as there are patterns of behaviour you might not see. Certainly it doesn’t take a genius to recognise a toxic, every-man-for-himself type of culture (and who hasn’t worked somewhere people bolt out the door of screaming ‘save yourself!’ on a daily basis). But in reality most cultural nuances are more subtle.
Working closely with Apricot we perform activities like cultural assessments e.g. sitting in on workshops, to see how people interact, their body language and how they ask questions etc. Together, we aim to promote cultures where people readily share knowledge and skills with their peers. (For an interesting discussion on ‘giver and taker cultures’, read the results of a recent McKinsey study, which shows how organisations benefit when their employees freely contribute knowledge and skills to others).
3. Key influencers
In every organisation there are certain individuals who can influence others or hold sway over behaviour. This isn’t always just someone who thinks they’re top dog, but might a person who is particularly skilled or knowledgeable, who others look to for information. Identifying these individuals and leveraging their position to influence UA is a powerful change management tool. For example, engaging a subject matter expert to publish content exclusively to SharePoint will help drive UA.
While key influencers are not always senior employees, it’s worth mentioning that unit or area managers can become roadblocks if they are not engaged properly. Some managers are so focused on the activities of their unit, they see themselves as needing to operate outside the system. This kind of manager will generally make a comment such as ‘this won’t work for my guys’ during a workshop, and can be mitigated by engaging the individual in the project and (hopefully) flipping them to become a powerful endorser of change.
4. ‘Build it and they will come’ mindset
Failing to engage people will almost always see a new system or project fall flat. And, while Change Management and UA activities need to be reinforced by strategy and planning, bringing users along to change from the outset is probably the single most important factor.
Talk to people, ask them what they need to do their jobs better, how they like to interact with each other and with information, what device they prefer to use. Then let them see the solution, test it, try to break it. Does it do what it needs to do? Then, once a system is deployed, continue to drive engagement through things like reward and recognition structures.
Ultimately, a well-executed UA or Change Management strategy can deliver that deeper level of engagement you are looking for and will result in more sustained adoption. Done properly, it also doesn’t have to blow out your budget as the ideology is fairly simple – however it does depend on the size of your organisation and the level of change required.
Do you think your organisation would be objective enough to self-manager change? Answering ‘no’ might prove to be a wise decision. Contact us and we can put you in touch with an Office 365 or SharePoint specialist to talk you through our UA and project methodology in more detail.
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