If you’ve ever implemented a new program at work you’ve probably heard phrases like, If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it or that’s the way we’ve always done it streaming from the company break room. What these phrases are really saying is that they are not only resistant to change but don’t even want to attempt something new that may make their workday easier. It’s normal to be weary of change; we crave comfort and tend to shy away from the unknown. But it is our job as HR to lead the way and help make our fellow employees comfortable with the transition.
Step 1: Listen
Before you can expect employees to embrace a new system, you first have to listen to what they expect and what they fear. It’s not what you say but how you respond to what employees are trying to tell you. So welcome employees to voice their opinions through questionnaires, group meetings, or even comment boxes.
Step 2: Really listen
Really, it’s all about listening. You may assume employees are objecting to the change just to object or because they don’t want to explore other ways of doing business. But you may find that employees are simply worried about not being able to learn the new system or mistakenly think their job will be made more difficult. Acknowledge their fears, answer their questions, and communicate how they will benefit from the system.
Step 3: Identify Influencers
Just think of all of the books sold simply because Oprah recommended them. Take time to familiarize yourself with the hierarchy of influence within your organization and identify those who are consistently sought out for advice. These individuals should be approached during the infancy of your campaign to recruit them as allies.
Step 4: Start Small
Before introducing the new system to the entire company, start with a small pilot group made up of key stake holders and influencers. By starting small, you can work out any kinks early and use questions, common errors and feedback to create a more comprehensive and informative training program.
Step 5: Training is Key
Create a well-organized and inclusive training program to introduce employees to the system. Setup multiple information sessions and even make training videos or starter guides and post them on the company’s intranet or shared drive for easy access. Also consider making training mandatory but provide multiple sessions at convenient locations so employees can attend the session that fits best into their schedule.
Step 6: Be Available
No matter the amount of information you provide to your employees there will always be questions. If you cannot make time to answer incoming questions, setup a help line, help forum, or peer training program so employees can ask and get answers to question they may have about the system. If employees know they will have access to help along the way, they will be more likely to comply with or even welcome the new system.