We talk a lot about maximizing people through technology, but isn’t the reverse just as essential?
No business should spend money, energy, or time without a clear path to a return on those investments, yet it happens everyday. As an example, how many business applications have been purchased without the workforce wanting (or even being able to use) them? Often these potentially game-changing tools are grossly underutilized and fail to produce the promised value. When this happens customers are quick to blame the application, but the true cause of the failure can often be found in the lack of proper preparation and engagement of the workforce.
Here are three steps that will help your next tech initiative to be a smashing success.
1. Get your people on board. Humans are naturally resistant change. To get your people behind this effort you have to make a strong case for the need to change. What’s not working now? Why are we falling behind the competition, or not meeting customer expectations? What would the benefits of a more efficient system be to our operations and costs? How much time could your staff save by making this type of change? Assign your people to do the research and to get the answers themselves. Involve them in the decision to improve, and it will be a shared choice to move forward rather than some edict from you.
2. Get your people up to speed. Make sure you build into the initiative enough training to create competency with the new system. This needed skill level has two forms. First, you must train enough people to be proficient; second, your people must be able to use enough functionality of the system in order to gain adequate benefit from it. The worst business upgrades in history have the most narrow and shallow implementations. Too few people using only a sliver of the feature set—that’s a recipe for disaster.
3. Keep your people going. Depending on the culture or your organization, there may be a considerable contingent within your workforce that will believe this change to be nothing more than a passing fad. The “flavor of the month,” or, “this, too will pass” attitude will kill your business transformation if opinion leaders are sitting around, refusing to participate, and waiting for the end of yet another “change” effort (insert eye-rolling here). The best ways to counter this toxic and contagious mentality are to ignore and overwhelm it. Concentrate on the already-engaged employees who are onboard, and who have made the effort to get up to speed. Recognize and reward them frequently, substantially, and visibly. Hold them up as heroes. Give them well-deserved bonuses, pay raises and promotions. Soon, the naysayers will understand how to get ahead in your organization, and hop on the train.
By involving your workforce in these ways, you will greatly increase your chances of success, and your tech dollars will produce the maximum ROI possible.