May 16, 2011 | last updated June 1, 2012 10:09 am
TALKING POINTS

How to help employees embrace new technology

John Beyer

Embracing new office technology can be challenging for many. Even for those who aren't apprehensive about technology, automating a manual process that employees have been accustomed to for years can be overwhelming.

With profitability and efficiency among businesses' top priorities, and technology a valuable tool for increasing both, how can business leaders help employees to adopt, and even openly embrace, new technology?

When considering a new technology — be it software, hardware or even a simple upgrade — talk to your team members about their current challenges and frustrations to gauge what features are 'must-haves.'

By taking a solution-oriented approach and integrating technology that meets employee needs, it will be easier to integrate the technology into day-to-day operations.

Training

Just like you would train a new employee on office procedures, it is important to train team members on how to best use new technologies. When developing a training program for your team members, consider company culture. Is your office bursting with early adopters? Do team members lag behind in their adoption of technology?

Knowing who you are working with is as important as understanding the technology itself. Understanding the culture will help

It is also important to develop a program that trains all team members, not just system administrators. Training all team members on the system will prevent administrators from being bombarded with questions and reduce the number of team members who resist the technology due to lack of understanding.

To help increase team members adoption of the technology and minimize any apprehension, coordinate team training sessions in small groups where the team can work hands-on with the new technology and receive on-the-spot support and guidance. A small group setting will help people to feel more comfortable asking questions.

Measure results

Evaluating the effectiveness of a new technology is crucial. It both helps to determine if goals are being met and demonstrates the technology's value to the team.

Before implementing a new technology, set benchmarks. Potential benchmarks include how many team members you want using the technology after a set period of time, projected increases in productivity and desired reductions in system interruptions.

These measurements will help management to evaluate return on investment and illustrate the value of the technology to employees who are resistant to or struggling with the transition. Showing employees that customers are receiving better service, that they are more efficient in their role, and/or that the business is operating more smoothly, will motivate them to become familiar with and consistently use the new technology.

Once you have measured how many employees have become proficient with the technology, interface with those who are resisting the change or encountering possible difficulty.

Is there a key system functionality that team members have overlooked? Are team members using the system incorrectly, and are therefore frustrated? Identifying the reasons employees are not using a new technology can help to identify areas where additional training is needed and help to refine your purchasing strategy for future technology

Be patient

Wouldn't it be great if team members were on board and running at full-speed from the get go? Unfortunately, this is not always realistic.

Be patient when implementing a new technology and team members are trying to learn the new processes. While training will help, it still takes time for things to run smoothly. Anticipate that team members will have questions and challenges as they work with the new technology. Take the time to educate team members on the value of the new technology and highlight how it will make their job faster/better/easier.

It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of all technology, consider team members feedback, and assess overall impact on day-to-day operations. When implementing a new technology, work closely with team members to ensure that the technology is being used properly and that they are comfortable with the new processes.

Taking the time to help employees transition to using new technology effectively is key for allowing businesses to realize optimal increases in efficiency and cost savings while helping them to refine their purchasing and implementation strategy with future technology.

John Beyer is president/CEO and co-founder of Realized Solutions, a customer software solution and network support provider in Plainville. He can be reached at jbeyer@myrsi.com.

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