If there is one point we try to make to my clients, it is that technology and culture change are two sides of the same coin. Of course, leaders may know this intellectually. And yet, instinctively, when they hear terms like “culture” and “change management,” they may tend to brush them under the rug and de-prioritize them as HR “fluff.”
Despite the change management function growing in demand, change management is still almost always under-invested in, resulting in slower adoption of new technology, less alignment across the organization, and ultimately – more time to achieving ROI on technology investments.
What makes change management and culture change so important when undergoing a technology transformation?
The answer is that bringing technology and innovation into a company requires an actual paradigm shift for a company — which requires, first and foremost, a change in mindsets to precede adoption.
Want proof? Just remember the impact that the advent of new technology had, and continues to have, on our own lives as individuals: how our own mindsets had to transform as a result of smart phones, email, or social media.
It took some time for us to get accustomed to all of the additional connectivity, real-time information, and new social interactions available to us. Many of us(like myself) resisted for a while, preferring the old way — phone calls(the unscreened kind), letters by mail, reading the news in newspapers, etc — before ultimately accepting the additional efficiency, opportunities, and convenience these new tools provided.
And a big part of what drove us to make these changes in ourselves: Peer Pressure.
Indeed, everyone around us was using these tools and they came up in conversations constantly. We began to see that if we didn’t adopt new technology, we would be missing the memo to some extent(literally). We also saw that using these tools would enhance our existing relationships, giving us new channels and ways to communicate and share information quickly. It was beneficial to our relationships to adopt new technology.
And that is a key piece to the puzzle for companies. The problem in most companies is that teams and functions are siloed and have been for far too long. As a result of separate systems, work processes, and metrics to fulfill, teams have grown far too comfortable in their own “bubbles” or tribes. In some cases, resentment and competition have even developed between these tribes.
As a result, most employees, especially those on the front lines, fail to see the organization as a whole, as they rarely get an actual (w)holistic perspective.
So when a company brings in new cloud technology meant to merge systems and stimulate collaboration across historically siloed teams, the results are usually — underwhelming. Because the mindset of collaboration has never developed in the first place.
Resistance to adopting new tools forms, as people are comfortable in their own status quo — if it ain’t broke, why fix it? They fail to see how adopting a new tool benefits functions and processes downstream, and even if they do see it, what is the motivation for making such an inconvenient change?
Thus, a key part of our approach for change management relies on establishing organizational alignment and a collaboration mindset early on. And the onus for this, at least in the beginning, is completely on the leader. The importance of leadership cannot be understated when undergoing IT transformation and thus, our very framework is called LEADER!
Here are a few tips out of our LEADER Playbook to navigate the bumpy road of IT transformation more smoothly:
1. Gain as much consensus as possible from stakeholders prior to deploying the new tool to minimize time and money wasted. Use organizational alignment workshops, all-hands meetings, surveys, feedback systems, and active communications across channels from the very beginning.
2. Introduce change incrementally and in an agile fashion to avoid overwhelm and continuously collect feedback. Deploy micro-learnings and trainings in a rhythm coordinated with sprint releases. Ensure adequate and appropriate types of support are in place for employees and teams that are struggling.
3. Rally your early adopters. Change is hard work and everyone has a different reaction to it. Most will be resistant to change and prefer the status quo — the older the company, the more this is the case. Early adopters are few and far between — but are the gems of the organization that need to be rallied as evangelists for change.
4. Measure and communicate successes, big and small. Change fatigue is all too common and develops especially when employees have little visibility into the impact of changes. Ensure that momentum is kept up through active communication of successes by leaders via company-wide newsletters, intranet, word of mouth, etc.
5. Collect and incorporate feedback. Develop multiple systems for employees to offer feedback on their user experience and changes they would like to see. Actively involve them and ensure that feedback is addressed and acted upon promptly as needed.
Want more? Get access to plenty of resources, interesting case studies, frameworks, templates, and more at www.culturecounts.io.