FOSTERING A SMOOTH TRANSITION
We all know that change is hard. Sometimes people make it harder by resisting change rather than embracing it…even if the change is to their benefit! Try some of these tips for maximizing adoption and minimizing resistance when you roll out change in your organization:
- Demonstrate the benefits of the new tool to all affected & back it up with explanation of benefits to other staff for groups like IT that may not see direct benefit. The benefit to the company may sway some staff, but many will need to see benefit for themselves or their coworkers to buy-in. Staff may benefit from the adoption of the new tool, for example, by becoming more valuable to the company—higher productivity, increased deliverables, and fewer errors all tie directly to higher revenue per employee & better customer satisfaction. Staff that become experts in the use of the new tool will drastically outperform those who are not—increasing the expert’s relative value within the company and thus their job security. By freeing staff from repetitive, low knowledge required tasks, staff will be able to increase their knowledge and skills in electrical design’s finer and more complex areas of knowledge.
- An internal ‘evangelist’ for the new tool, i.e. a positive and knowledgeable person, will go far in preventing other staff from becoming frustrated with new tools and giving up or turning negative. Some refer to such a person as a ‘change artist’. We recommend that your most positive minded, change embracing, and experienced designer be trained first in the use of the new tool. If the person has the traits mentioned, they will highly likely naturally slip into the role of internal evangelist. If reasonably feasible, reward this person for being first, being positive, and for making the adoption of the new tool a success—the rewards need not be monetary.
- If involved from the very beginning in purchase and implementation planning, staff will be more amenable to the necessary process and standards changes that will affect how they work. Let staff know of the new tools on a timely basis, i.e. prepare them well in advance of the changeover so they don’t feel surprised or that their opinion on the changeover process was ignored. To increase buy-in, involve staff in planning the adoption process and in identifying what processes and standards will need to change.
- There will be staff that resist the adoption of the new tools, you likely have run into their resistance on any types of changes initiated over their time with the company. Have patience and help resistant staff see the value of the new tools to them personally. Their conversion will not happen quickly but over time they will accept the change and may even become some of the strongest proponents of the new tools.
- People learn best in different ways. Some learn best in a classroom situation, some learn best given time to experiment and dig around on their own. Budget time for staff to both take the training course and to have extra time on their first projects to allow for experiential learning, that way both types of learners will be accommodated. Ensure that all staff have unfettered access to either or both of expert internal assistance (from the evangelist mentioned above) and external assistance (from the tool supplier).
- Any change requires continuous reinforcement to keep the change process moving forward. Once you have told staff of why the change needs to be made and how it will benefit them and the company, tell them again…and again…and again…until adoption is complete, which will take months.
Change is never easy, but if you do everything you can to involve your people early and often, you will have an easier time rolling out the change.
Management makes a decision to use new tools either because external forces have forced the change on them or because the tool will benefit the company. People in general are resistant to change of any type, beneficial or not, so there is always convincing involved, sometimes coddling, and sometimes forcing!
The organizations that are able to most quickly adopt new tools and benefit from them are those that are able to create and maintain an environment that fosters quick and resistance free adoption. To do this, they will make it clear that staff success in the organization depends on their ability to adopt new tools as required. Organizations can also accelerate tool changeover by removing the old tools or only accepting delivery of product created with the new tools.
The executive(s) that make the purchase decision are the ‘sponsoring executives’. It is imperative that these executives stay attuned to the situation through the purchase phase, training phase, and adoption phase in order to lend support or gentle pressure as needed to keep the process of adoption flowing.
Failed adoptions of new tools typically happen because the executives that initiated or sponsored the purchase of the new tool think their job is done once the purchase is made. Natural resistance to change in the organization thus ‘kills’ the new tool in a slow and quite manner.
The reality of the situation is that the sponsoring executive needs to remain involved from the purchase decision all the way through to the completion of adoption by all affected staff. The time required of the sponsoring executive is not much, merely ongoing attention and encouragement toward the adoption of the new tools. In our experience, this particular requirement for facilitating adoption is the single most important task that needs to be done.
We hope that the information herein will help you and your organization in adopting beneficial new tools. A successful adoption will pay off many times over in ongoing: productivity gains, accuracy gains, and increased employee satisfaction due to reduced repetitive work.
Chief Operating Officer