Getting Users to Accept Change: Drag them Kicking and Screaming?
Getting Users to Accept Change: Drag them Kicking and Screaming?
by RUTH THOMAS - Nov 29,2016

There are two types of employees: those who adapt to change and those do not or do so reluctantly.

One can see this in everyday behavior. There are employees who are eager to learn new skills and others who are comfortable with their existing position and do not want to change that at all. One can further divide the second group into those who can work only on one thing at a time.

Psychologists have speculated on why some people do not like change. Some of the factors they highlight:

? People see how others behave but cannot always see how they themselves behave.
? Some people become defensive when presented with a new idea.
? Change brings discomfort.
? People fear the unknown.
? People fear looking weak or ignorant.
? People fear failure.

It is logical that a project can only move as fast as its slowest moving part. Users, of course, are a key part of a project. They cannot be overlooked, as the development team marches to the finish line. So training, communication and understanding are key issues so that people who resist change can be encouraged to come on board.

The presumption is you cannot easily change human behavior, but you can accommodate it. Here are some techniques to make everyone feel comfortable.

 

Communication

A large project could include a newsletter written in an upbeat tone to keep users and project team members informed.

The company’s managers could invite employees to presentations where the need for the new system is explained. The employees can be told that the old system does not meet the needs of the business, it costs too much to operate, and it is impacting sales.

Talk to smaller groups individually. Salesmen and diplomats have long known that people will be happy if you listen to their suggestions and questions without really committing to anything. If you need user feedback in the design phase then do that. Otherwise mollify, placate, and appear sympathetic to people’s concerns.

 

Training

People who are most resistant to change are going to groan when you try to urge them out of their cubicle to attend training classes. But in order for the project to be a success, training the employees how to use the new system is vital. Don’t schedule the training too early before the project launch or people will forget what they have learned. One day per week is probably better than one full week of training, since it lets people go back to the comfort of their desks and perhaps reflect on and absorb some of what they have learned.

 

Chain of Command

No manager likes to be undercut by his own organisation. You could invite managers onto the project team as part-time subject matter experts and encourage them to provide input into decisions.

These are a few ideas how to get the most reluctant employees to embrace change in the organisation. Some people come bouncing into the office every day, eager to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. Others cannot be pried from their cubicles with a lever. One needs to understand that not all people are the same. This is especially true when consulting firms come into your organisation. Consultants can be aggressive, surging ahead and upsetting employees working on existing processes. Consultants also need to know when to dial it back and work with employees, not against them so that everyone is focused on the same goals.

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