The beginners guide to humans (and change)

Blog article | By Lucy Newman, December 18, 2017

The Jenny

Jenny is a 34-year-old HR manager who has been using HR software “A” for most of her career. About to begin a new role at a new organization. She learns she’ll have to use system “B” instead.On her first day, Jenny is thrown into a classroom training session and is told there will be a full week of training before she starts her new role.

Jenny furiously notes down processes on her iPad and asks all the questions she can think to ask at the time.
But one week later, sitting at her new desk, Jenny is staring at system “B” and can’t remember how to complete an onboarding process.

She has two choices, furiously search the internet and intranet portal for support or waiting in the inevitably long queue for the IT support desk. Jenny is what the industry calls a Laggard, as the term implies, she is slow to adopt. Laggards are the most resistant to change and only do so when forced to adopt because everyone else has.

The James

James is 25, like Jenny, he is a HR Manager who has used software “A” his entire career with his current organization. Senior management has just informed James that he’ll need to move to system “B”

Unlike Jenny, James finds change easier to accept. He likes technology and is comfortable with new gadgets and software. So, using a new system, though there may be struggles, James is quite happy to learn.

James is given several 9-5 classroom training sessions and by the afternoon struggles to keep his focus on what he is being told. Nonetheless, he feels he’ll be confident with using the software. He knows if he has questions there will always be the IT helpdesk and user champions.

On the office floor, James’ confidence isn’t quite as high. The UX is much different on system “B” to the way it looked on system “A” He isn’t sure he’ll ever be as productive on this new software. He’s scared of being slow to adopt.

James forms part of the late majority. These users are the critical mass that ensures adoption. The late majority look for benefits in software but also expect a lot of help and support before they are willing to fully commit.

“You always have to deal with the fact that humans don’t like change, even if you’re offering something much easier, quicker, cost-saving and efficient. People tend to stick with the way they do things – we all do.”  – Pablo Sanz, Accounting Associate at Oakley

No two humans are the same

Many organizations implement software thinking that the onboarding process will be easy. After all, if the execs find it easy to use, so will employees.

After all, your organization has invested a substantial amount of money in something the executive team believe is going to produce tangible benefits. Whether this is increased workforce efficiency, productivity, greater corporate security, marked competitive advantages or happier employees. With so much to gain, you would think that employees would be able to embrace the new software.

But no two people are the same. People are human, and humans, as a rule, are creatures of habit that see change as disruptive. Humans don’t like change as leopards don’t like to change their spots. So how do you convince your people to take the new software plunge and adopt your software.

You must motivate and inspire

Never assume anything

Most business cases are put together assuming 100% adoption. But that would be assuming everyone in your business, even your Laggards and slow adopters, are going to fully adopt your software implementation. But it turns out, “there are many companies whose adoption falls well below 50% within 12 months of the software implementation going live,” says AppLearn CEO Mark Barlow.

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  You must build a plan for roll-out and share it with your team. Include your clear dates; when will your employees need to switch over, when will your existing software be exhausted. Your deployment tiers; Will you be rolling out the new software to the entire organization or will it be rolled out in specific groups. Your training opportunities; How will you onboard your organization to the software, how can you ensure each team has a training plan that works for them.

But most importantly, set your expectations. Not all your employees will adopt at the same pace. No two humans are the same. Set realistic expectations for adoption in your business case reflective of your varied workforce.

Pick the right software!

When you’re considering HR software, it’s essential you keep your employee’s interests in mind. The functionality of the system is critical, but the user-friendliness even more so. As Justin James explains; “Would you want your brakes installed by someone who is on their first day on the job with no training and expects fixing brakes to be intuitive? I didn’t think so.” Software that requires extensive classroom training sessions and hefty user manuals are a sure-fire recipe for workplace stress and hindered adoption.

Understand employees have different ideas of “Reward”

Knowing what kinds of reward mean to respective employees is important. For your Jenny, the reward could mean recognition or the ability to innovate faster. For your James, it could be compensation or perks. You have to reward employees based on the behaviour you want to see. You could even bring gamification into the workplace to make tasks and processes fun. Respective employees could have different levels of challenge, different ways to earn points or to ways to gain incentives. You have to Motivate your employees to complete processes, as Yu-Kai Chou, creator of Octalysis explains: “Gamification is design that places the most emphasis on process. In essence, it is human-focused design.”

Bespoke your training

No two employees learn in the same way. Some employees prefer an online training session where they can work and learn collaboratively. Whereas some may prefer support in the form of an existing user champion to guide them through the software. During the onboarding phase, it is essential to emphasize with your team and show that you understand the difficulties of learning a new software. That you understand their individual challenges and what you can do to help them through those challenges.

Highlight quick wins

Draw attention to the quick wins that come through your early adopters. Once employees become more comfortable with the software, publicize their quick wins and use it as a tool to leverage your laggards and late adopters. If James’ HR team in San Francisco has successfully onboarded themselves to updated processes and they’ve reduced their caseload by 50%, sharing this information with the wider team will significantly improve your case for change.

Shift your employees from adoption to addiction?

In the end, software implementation should always be less about the technology itself, and more about the humans using it. So, don’t let your project team go home when you go live. Remember employees are human, encourage employees to use new software – and soon, they might go from just adopting your software to being addicted to your software.

Have you faced a similar experience in your business? We’d love to hear about your adoption challenges and how you helped your users to overcome those challenges.

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