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Martin_Hartley

Category: Expertise strategy

People hate change, so how do you best implement it?

By Martin Hartley, Managing Director, emagine UK

Bringing in new technology, individuals, or new teams to work on a key project can feel like a threat to existing staff – but it doesn’t have to be that way if you manage change positively.

I spoke to emagine’s own panel of change management experts consisting of Agile Practice Lead Nick Foster, Development Practice Lead David Shaw, and Operations Manager Stephen Masterson to share insights you can apply within your own organisation.

Typically, if we bring in a new consultant or team, it’s to support an existing project or environment, to add credibility to a project, or equally it’s a simple case of execution support.

The nature of our consultancy is that we support our clients with the very best – the top ten per cent of consultants available for their project. Introducing these new teams into a business can be seen as a threat to existing employees.

Rather than encourage rivalry as some businesses undoubtedly do – and where there is unhealthy rivalry, toxicity will follow – we work hard to ensure there is a clear, common objective and vision to any project and that includes understanding the need to bring in any new talent.

Sounds simple, but how do we do this?

Team Unity

Vision and communication need to go hand in hand, so bringing consultants together early to understand the objectives of what they are working on and what their roles are within the project is key.

It’s important to try and create a social event to get people interacting and engaging outside of work to show that these are your colleagues rather than rivals. Once people understand you're all in it together and you get to know them on a personal level, that really helps to build bonds.

You can also encourage cohesion by empowering existing employees to act as mentors or single points of contact for the new team.

If consultants are remote, circumvent this by arranging more frequent online meetings. It’s the little things that make the difference here – one of them being to ensure everybody has their camera on all the time. There can be a tendency, especially amongst developers, to try and dial in without the camera on, but having them on means there’s more participation, and it’s more likely that everyone will be heard.

Managing change

Change can fail when you try and go too big too soon, so smaller, gradual, but continuous change is always preferable.

The introduction of change follows a curve where people fall into different brackets. You’ve got your innovators, early adopters, the majority, the late adopters, then the laggers.
Ask yourself: can you sell the vision to all of those people?

Can you take all of those different types of people on this journey with you? And do you have stages for each of these people to get involved and to jump on board?

If the answer is ‘no’, edit your plans and communications until you have.

Think about creating space for change.

Use your own ‘test pilots’ to test the change velocity and learn what issues you will take on board before you scale. Scale slowly, learn, remediate and move forward.

Inspiring vision is imperative, and leadership must be fully involved in any change.
UBS is a great example. We're working with them very closely on an agile transformation and they are fully immersed in it from the very, very top, right down from the CEO who is constantly talking about agile, through the entire workforce. And if the CEO wasn't engaged, it wouldn't work.


 

“Inspiring vision is imperative, and leadership must be fully involved in any change..”

 


Two IT business executives interviewing a consultant

Don’t underestimate human nature

Recognise and leverage change champions. People like to follow others on an ‘if they are doing it, so will I’ basis. Recognise there will be collateral damage.

There’s a good chance some people won't accept it. Some people will leave. And further down the line, there will be some people who won't want to implement it. But you just have to understand that and recognise it.

In the main, people don't like change.
We have people who work for us who hate change, and we've been going through a big change over the last year.

When we spoke to those individuals upfront, there was plenty of resistance: “I don't like that”, ”I won't do that, it’ll never work…” and twelve months later they’ve taken it all on board and changed their opinion – so always account for the human nature element!

How does technology impact existing employees?

Again, it comes down to clear communication and amplifying the benefits.
Be honest about the implementation and purpose of the technology. Is the technology there to improve efficiencies? Will it replace an aspect of the job and, if so, what are the gains?

The common golden thread here is ensuring everyone understands the value of the technology and how it can create efficiencies not just for the organisation but also for the team and for individuals.

If you explain what the road map is for implementing the technology; what training is required and then follow up that training, you ensure it goes full circle.

In many cases, the new technologies are there to ensure that existing team can be redeployed to more value added and challenging activities rather than doing the mundane jobs.

There's also the issue that new technology isn’t always used as efficiently or as properly as it should be, and then people complain about it – so often any errors or teething problems are human and not technological.
If people understand the value the new tech could create, they’re more likely to take the time to understand and use it to its full potential.

In short, help people to understand it’s a trade-off. It's not a case of ‘this tech is going to take my job’, but more, ‘this tech will make my job easier and more enjoyable’.
Another tip is to pave the way to integration for new technology by allowing ‘Super Users’ to adopt it first and show the way. You’ll know who those people are in your team.


 

“You need a clear road map to implementation and understanding the benefits of new technology.”

 


Managing introduction of tech for end-users

New tech 101: Ease of use. If it’s not easy to use, people won’t use it. Simple as that.

If you look at phone apps, they’re easy to use and intuitive. The user interface is great, and they make life simple. That's the whole point. If your new technology doesn't do that, then you're wasting your time.

Again, you need a clear road map to implementation and understanding the benefits: committed, super users, ongoing refresher training, inspection of key metrics, and identification of end users who are utilising it.

The takeaway?

Always bring people along on the journey with you by explaining the vision, highlighting the benefits, clearly defining the roles, understanding the change curve amongst individuals within your team, and keep talking.


 

“Always bring people along on the journey with you by explaining the vision, highlighting the benefits, clearly defining the roles, understanding the change curve amongst individuals within your team. And keep talking!”

 


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