Overcoming Technological Resistance to Change

Bryan Herijanto

However necessary, most changes are difficult — even when you try to change things for the better. 

This applies to personal life, diets, and sleep schedules as much as it goes for digital transformations in your company. In fact, Boston Consulting Group claims that the majority of transformation programs don’t bring the desired outcomes.

Why are workers pushing back against the beneficial changes?

Is it possible to nip the resistance to change in the bud?

Let’s find out!

Possible Reasons Your Workers Are Pushing Back

When we cross out the usual “it’s uncomfortable” answer variations in favour of more concrete answers, the reasons employees lost boil down to these four:

  • They weren’t informed or consulted before you introduced the new digital tool;
  • Nobody has prepared them for the upcoming changes, and they’re inexperienced and confused without any knowledge or training;
  • The new tech stack doesn’t seem necessary, as they work just fine without it and don’t see the need to complicate things;
  • The change is a source of frustration, instead of making their work easier.

How to Prevent the Resistance to Digital Transformation

Even if there’s some initial reluctance to adopt the new tech, rest assured that it’s possible to work through it successfully!

Having a well-thought-out tech adoption process helps the most. 

To ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible, work in stages:

  1. Set the scene — during the first stage, you should create a timeline, announce the changes, and educate the adopters.
  2. The early days — don’t go all in at once! Instead, get the new tech providers to assist you with implementation, and pick a share of the employees who will be the early adopters and provide feedback.
  3. Final adjustments — apply what you’ve learned during the testing period and enjoy the digital revamp!

Pre-adoption: Plan, Announce, Prepare

With a good foundation, you’ll set yourself up for success and prevent frustration, confusion, and overall lack of enthusiasm for the digital transformation you had in mind.

Create a New Tech Adoption Timeline

This is a step you must not miss!

A well-sketched-out timeline will help you and your team members set realistic expectations about timing, and see how long each step will take. 

Here are some critical data to have in mind:

  • When can each department start training, and how long does it take to train and then test the workforce?
  • When, and for how long should you beta-test the new tool with select staff members?
  • What is the final date by which everyone should start using the tool properly?

Additionally, a timeline can help you make good strategic and financial decisions.

In retail, for example, it is never a good idea to disrupt the workflow during busy seasons. Late January is the calmest period when shoppers recover from holiday spending. Workers will have more time to learn and adjust, without all the pressure.

Communicate the Intended Changes and Their Outcomes in Advance

Once your adoption timeline is all set, it is time to announce the upcoming workplace changes to the staff.

Pick a communication channel that reaches out to all the parties involved — ideally, a company-wide messaging app. In addition to the adoption timeline, your message should include:

  • The name of the new tool they’ll be using, with a couple of useful knowledge resources (tutorials, help centre, how-tos, etc.) so they can familiarise themselves with it in advance;
  • The reason for introducing new tech;
  • Who will be affected, and in what way;
  • What is the purpose and desired effect of these changes;
  • Training schedule OR a form where they can pick the training time that suits them;
  • Contacts of people who can respond to their questions about anything related.

Provide Training and Learning Resources for the New Tools

Much of the resistance and confusion comes from the fact that employees don’t know how to use the new tools to their fullest potential, or why they should even switch from the old ones.

A proper onboarding for the new tech stack deals with these issues efficiently. 

Here are some dos and don’ts to stick to:

  • DO make the training compulsory for the ones that will use it, but DON’T force them to stay after hours or when it’s a bad time (rush hours, busy days);
  • DO be thorough, but DON’T overcomplicate the training: micro-learning platforms are God-sent, serving bite-sized knowledge chunks they can ingest when it’s convenient;
  • DO share a knowledge base they can rely on, but DON’T use it as a replacement for the proper training — the chances are they won’t touch it until they need it, and delay the task/make a mistake;
  • DO make some time for their questions at the end of the learning session;
  • DON’T forget to revisit: test their knowledge to be sure they’re ready for adoption.

The Adoption Period: Testing the Waters

Don’t expect everyone to be on board from day one. Some are generally resistant to change and take more time to adjust, while others will still have second thoughts about the whole thing. 

The pre-boarding (pre-adoption) period will prepare the staff nicely for the practical part that follows: practical use and seeing the benefits themselves.

Ask the New Tech Vendors for Assistance

The tool creators have the most knowledge, experience, and incentive for this digital transformation to work. Their advice and assistance are as useful and valuable as it gets! Help with implementation is often a part of the deal or a nice gesture they can provide to secure a great relationship with your organisation.

At the same time, you’ll get the chance to check how invested they are in your success

The best tech companies put plenty of work into customer retention and relationships, with dedicated Account Managers who help their clients with all the roadblocks. 

If you start noticing the issues with them from day one, use it as a warning. Cut your losses and switch to another vendor before you’re in too deep.

Test Before Committing: Pilot the Technology on a Smaller Scale

It might be too hectic to unleash everything at full scale at once, especially if you have plenty of workers to oversee.

Instead, you can opt for one of these strategies:

  • Assign each team manager with specific duties, and equip them to independently handle the switch without issues. Keep in mind: the stress managers put up with is significant; be sure not to burden them with too much work on top of their regular tasks! This strategy works best for smaller companies.
  • Pick a team that will test the new tool first. Give the beta testers enough time to apply what they’ve learned in training in a real-life setting. Larger companies will do better with this strategy.

Collect Feedback From the Staff

Gathering employee feedback will help you set the course for full digital transformation. 

Collect the impressions, suggestions, and ratings from everyone involved: deskless workers, their managers, and the IT crew alike. Instruct them to be as candid as possible, and to have a realistic view of what needs to be reshaped, adjusted, added, or removed.

Using a chat-based employee feedback tool is the easiest way to gather feedback. These tools ensure the feedback is collected easily, more attractive than a Google form — and display the actionable data you can learn from.

The Final Touches to Ace the Transition

After meticulous preparations, learning, and testing, all there is left is to adjust to your findings!

For Best Results, Adjust to the Employee Feedback

When workers are the ones using the new tech, it makes the most sense to listen to their suggestions, right?

Once you aggregate the employee feedback, you can pinpoint the most pressing issues, and the ones most often mentioned in their reports. Find a way to resolve the issues to ensure there are no more pushbacks — either by adjusting the tool, the way they use it, or by reaching out to tool vendors for solutions.

The experience you gained with the testing group will help you with the remaining staff. Once you’ve worked through the issues, you’re ready for a digital transformation! 

Scaling the New Tool

With everything else put in order, it’s time to re-adjust the pricing plans to your real needs. You might need additional features of this tool to support the workers better, or to switch to a less ambitious plan for the time being.

Pro tip: opt for a monthly plan when adopting a new tool into your tech stack, instead of locking in a yearly plan to save a few bucks.

Mercu can help you transform digitally in a painless way. 

It’s as easy as answering a WhatsApp message — because to workers, it’s all there is to do!

On the other hand, you get a platform that helps you handle the full employee lifecycle smoothly, like it’s always been there.

Your workforce is mobile. Your tools should be too.

In a sea of existing tools that aren’t built to solve your deskless workforce problems, Mercu is the exception. Automate enablement with a chat-based platform that gets results.