Given Yahoo’s recent challenges in getting its staff to switch from Outlook to their own branded email system (source – AllThingsD), it’s no wonder the rest of us have similar issues getting users to change their technology habits. If employees at technology companies don’t easily adapt to change, what hope do the rest of us have?
What does Yahoo’s example tells us about helping employees adopt change.
Yahoo probably exercised rule Number 1 of adoption “Don’t shove anything down your employee’s throats” and ease into your implmentation. Getting a subset of the employees to champion the software and have their experience go viral is a great way to go. It also appears as if they followed the first part of rule Number 3: “Ask for feedback”. In order to make any change, employees need to feel engaged. Yahoo appears to have gotten this right.
Much to everyone’s dismay Yahoo’s efforts may have stopped there.
Yahoo may have forgotten rule Number 2: “set clear expectations about the system”. Make sure that the necessary items that employees need to do their job are features of the new system. On the new email system release date, a great percentage of their employees “tried” the new email, but most were probably dissatisfied by the missing, but important features that they required in order to effectively manage their corporate email. Less than 25% of the workforce were using the system months later.
Another must is rule Number 4: “Make adoption a requirement from the top down”. Managers along with employees should have been made accountable for adoption. Asking people to “pleeeaaasse” use the system does not go far enough and having managers on board greatly improves the feedback loop. If employees clamoring for change isn’t enough, Managers requiring change in order to meet company objectives and deliverables will certainly carry the necessary weight and be heard.
Change is hard, but manageable. Below are steps to help you manage your next implementation toward success:
- Ease into implementation. Come up with a game plan that won’t make it difficult for your employees to introduce the new system into their workday. Get a few key people in the organization across the varying departments that use the system on board early and let kick the tires, workout the bugs and have them champion the system.
- Make sure that the necessary items that employees need to do their job are features of the new system. If your processes are changing and some current processes are going to me omitted, make sure that you have made a compelling case as to why these preferred processes should be discarded. Remember, people are creatures of habit and will need help to get out of their own way.
- Create a responsive feedback loop. Don’t just ask for feedback, deliver results. Remember rule number 2.
- Make adoption a requirement from the top down. Making managers accountable for adoption and holding them responsible for their staff’s adoption rate is great way to make sure that everyone is on-board, and fully utilizing the investment you’ve made into your new system.