Don't let changes in tech or systems upend your workflow. Learn some valuable tips on how to navigate those situations.
For most people, change is a scary concept. Here are some strategies I've used in the past to help people acclimate to changes within your organization.
1. Involve Employees in the Change
One thing I think a lot of organizations overlook is the input of the people impacted by the change. Let's say I own a call center. As the manager of a call center, I have certain things that will make my life easier, certain viewpoints on what information I need, and ideas on what classifies as success. As a telephone operator that works in the call center, those things might be completely different. If I want to initiate a change that's going to impact the call center employee, there's a certain way I should go about it as a manager. The smoothest way to go about it is to have that employee involved in the decisions driving the changes. Again, I have changes that I want as a manager, and I’m sure they have changes they want as an employee. Therefore, even if the change ends up being harder for them, they will feel more involved in the process if they are part of the decision making. When you're making a change that's going to impact people, involve them in the decision. Once they understand that the change is going to happen and that being involved is their only opportunity to make an impact on that change, people usually come around.
2. Start Training Right Away
Another important factor is starting training immediately after the change has been made. It’s a big mistake to wait until the change has happened to provide the employees and staff with training. That's one of the largest issues when it comes to change management, and that's one of the largest reasons why changes fail.
For example, I worked with a non-profit that decided to implement a new customer relationship management (CRM) system rather than having an excel spreadsheet that included all the students they work with and their programs. Unfortunately, the CRM ended up not even working. The employees had to spend 10-15 hours a week just trying to work around this non-working system. If the non-profit had asked their employees ahead of time what types of features they would find helpful in a CRM, they likely would have chosen a completely different system. This again shows the value in having employees be part of the decision from the beginning.
As soon as change has been decided on, the training needs to start. Ideally, everyone should be trained on new systems 30 days before the change is implemented. You should also be planning the change out so that it's staggered. If you have multiple locations, focus on transitioning location by location. If something goes wrong, it'll be just one location or department rather than all your locations or departments at the same time.
3. Have a Plan for Trouble
Having a plan for handling issues is also important. If the change causes issues with your software or issues with your customer process, how will you handle that? It's important to have a successful change rather than just a fast change. A fast change is something anyone can do, but you risk falling flat on your face, spending a bunch of money you don't need to spend, and possibly losing valuable employees because of this management.
4. Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
During every change, you should be following up. No change is going to happen perfectly all at once. Loose ends are what cause the whole blanket to unravel. If something isn't working, employees will instinctively create workarounds which can create more work and problems. I believe that a good way to follow up is after one week, one month, and 90 days after the change. This will make sure any loose ends are covered and people are acclimating.
5. Be Kind
My last tip on managing change is to be kind. When you're initiating change, you need to understand your employees might have difficulties on a physical and psychological level. Make allowances for that. We are humans, not machines, and it takes time for our brains to reacclimate to a new process.