Posted on 5 July, 2018 | 4 mins
We hear that “change is hard”, but also that it’s the “only constant”. Business development, productivity and progress depends on it, while staff engagement and satisfaction can falter because of it.
We’re naturally attracted to change because pursuing it is rewarded with dopamine, a prize from our brains to encourage the exploratory instinct we needed as primitive, wild animals to evolve and survive. There’s a term for it: neophilia—a love of new things.
So, when it comes to bringing new ideas and fresh ways of working into your business, it’s encouraging to know that people are hardwired to move with the times (although some to different degrees than others).
And yet, it might not seem that way. If you’ve ever tried to introduce a new idea into your business—a new process, product line or even productivity apps—it can sometimes take extra initiative to get some people on board.
When that happens, activity could slump, as your team is split between those who “get it” and those who don’t bother. At its worst, failure to get compete staff buy-in impacts ROI and the feasibility of your new idea—regardless of how good it is. More than half of all tech investments fail because there’s a lack of buy-in from the end user¹.
The best productivity apps in the world will prove counter-intuitive if your people aren’t engaged. So, how do you get your staff not only implemented with your new way of working but fully engaged in it? Here are five steps, relatable to virtually any new idea, though focussed on making sure your new business apps hit the right notes.
Step one: Explain the benefits
Let’s say you’re starting to use business apps that offer productivity-boosting functions like job management and timesheets, or even collaboration tools like video conferencing and document sharing.
There’s a reason your business has decided to use it, and communicating that to staff members is step one to getting their buy-in.
That means you need to be transparent. If the goal is to cut costs, you might find that staff respond well to clarity—your business’s success is linked to theirs, after all.
Don’t swim around the shallows of the business benefits either, but dive into the depths. The more information you can give to your people, the more likely it is that they’ll find something they engage with.
Step two: Address their concerns
Once you’ve explained the business benefits, take the time to listen to any concerns your people may have. That means actively encouraging people to speak up—an issue raised early on can be managed better than one that rears up later in the process.
Taking the time to listen to concerns also lets you openly address any conflicts from nay-sayers and nip them in the bud.
From the light bulb to the combustion engine, some of the best new ideas have had their detractors. It’s best to address them as soon as possible, as the complaints of the few can influence the minds of the many.
It could also help to explain how important staff buy-in is to the success of your new idea, so people have a stake in being open minded in the first place.
Step three: Define ‘success’
Ideally, a new way of working will be a way to get you closer to one (or more) of your key performance indicators. If you have certain goals in mind when moving your business into the cloud, take a little time to share some of these with your staff.
With an accounting app, for instance, it might be to better manage your debtors and get your invoices paid faster in an aim to improve cash flow. With a sales app, you could be trying to learn more about your various sales channels. A CRM tool may be used with reducing customer churn in mind.
Share what success looks like with your team—after all, it will be your team who helps to get you there.
Step four: Incentivise success
We all like to know what’s in it for us. So, once you’ve defined success, explain to your staff what the direct benefits are of successful change.
This could be specific to promoting certain aspects of their job. “If we all start using this workflow-management tool, we can reduce the time everyone spends on admin through automation.”
Or it could be more focussed on the broader idea: “We know 35% of workers are hindered by legacy IT systems². We’re modernising how we work to let you be more productive and reduce headaches of using our old systems.”
You can also take the time to explain the personal benefits more intimately with any people who are more resistant to change.
Of course, what you say depends on your own individual business goals, but these could be a good starter for 10.
Step five: Be open to changing the change
Last, but certainly not least, your business needs to be responsive to change, too—which we can often forget when trying to make a new idea a success.
That might mean making slight corrections to the way you’re working to address any issues brought up by your staff.
Resisting change to the change is a fast way to lose the support of your employees. So keep an eye on your progress, track whether your new idea is getting you closer to your KPIs and be prepared to change course if necessary.
When it comes to using business apps, the majority of the tools in the 9 Spokes marketplace come with a free trial, so you can make risk-free experiments before going all in. App providers themselves are also on hand to make sure you’re getting all the advantages, so if something isn’t quite working for you and your team, we strongly recommend you get in touch and let them help.
Change management is not always easy—and may require other steps unique to your business—but the effects of successful change is seen in every successful business. With your people on your side, it becomes infinitely easier and more impactful.