The world is full of companies that have excelled in their market for decades with antiquated operational methods. In fact, I continually encounter companies that have prospered for 40+ years with unchanged processes, and it’s hard to argue their past success.
A solid change management plan will make the implementation of new technologies much easier.
More often than not, the leadership within these companies knows there is a more effective way to operationally function through interaction with their peer groups and other educational resources. However, there is also a culture within these companies that often chooses to leave the boat “un-rocked.”
The reasons people do not embrace change is commonly covered in fear, including the fear of failure, the fear of the unknown, fear of peer acceptance, and even fear of success. Many times there are also internal power struggles that need to be considered. All of these reasons can be addressed if the risks associated with change are properly mitigated.
Let’s face it, the world is changing fast. New technologies and innovations are constantly changing the way companies should be doing business, and the companies that do not react to these changes are often left behind.
Most concerns faced by leadership can be addressed with a proper approach to change management. Knowing that new technologies can affect the relationships between management and employees, it is up to the leadership of the company to address employee questions and concerns that often include:
- Am I going to lose my job?
- Are my work hours going to be reduced?
- This change in technology is going to be so stressful!
- This change will not work for us!
Companies that have been through successful implementations of new technology understood employee concerns and addressed those concerns early in the process. These innovative companies also find ways to utilize the brainpower of their workforce, allowing employees to perform tasks that cannot be done with automation. This helps employees feel better about the jobs they perform day in and day out.
One way to put more focus on change management is to have a dedicated person responsible for the introduction of new technology to the rest of the company. However, this isn’t the only way. Over the years, I’ve seen several useful tactics for successful technology implementation and change management including:
- Select the Right Technology – Study the data (not the sales literature). If you do not select the right technology, you will spend a great deal of time trying to “make the shoe fit.”
- Check References – Before finalizing the solution, network with other users similar to your company. Don’t short change this process!
- Employee Involvement – Take benchmarking trips with key operational supervisors, senior management, maintenance personnel, and cross-departmental staff (no one thinks of everything).
- Get all Personnel Involved Once a New Technology is Selected – Use of video, streaming PowerPoint, posters, and other methods can help create a positive buzz throughout the work place. Town Hall meetings can also be effective if you are prepared to discuss the effect this change might have on overall employment.
- Focus on Training – Select key peer leaders for early training, so they can help sell new technologies internally. Also, never shortchange the training period as unsuccessful implementations commonly happen when training is brushed over. It is also important to track who has been trained so no one is missed.
- Document Everything – Training should be video recorded and documented on your company’s Intranet (if one is available) for future reference.
- Create Short Terms Wins – Set goals that are initially easy to achieve. Demonstrate patience in this roll out.
- Demonstrate No Fear – If you are confident in your choice of technology then you cannot demonstrate any fear. If you doubt your selection, so will others. Be proud of the contributions you have made and know that through successful change management your company will quickly recognize your contributions.
Planning, implementing, and managing change is undoubtedly a difficult task if left to circumstance; nevertheless, these responsibilities are something many of us now face. We must meet these challenges in an assertive manner in order to help our companies implement necessary change and thus excel in our respective markets for years to come.
Do you utilize change management techniques? What works and doesn’t work for you?