Keep Calm. Use the Software.

keep-calm-and-use-the-softwareIt should be enough.

It should be enough that research is done, tests are performed, usage scenarios are evaluated, decisions are made, money is spent, and software is installed.

You now have state of the art, cutting edge software installed on your computer. It has been explained to you why the software was purchased, what management hopes you do with the software, and how the software can most effectively be used.

But this is not the software you regularly use. So rather than connecting with other staff team members using your new enterprise network, you send a group email. It might not be as effective as the new platform, it might not move the organization forward as your manager explained to you that it could, but you know how to use email. You are comfortable using email. You use email.

Rather than sharing documents using your online file library, you attach files to an email. Sharing a file online may reduce confusion, reduce multiple versions of the same file being sent back and forth and save everyone time, but this is not behavior you are used to. Attaching a file to an email feels much easier that finding the file on a website and clicking the share button.

It is not only that you are being asked to use a new tool. You are being asked to change your behavior and your habits. You are being asked to change the very way you work. This is not a simple proposition.

Because new software is not just about functionality, it often goes unused. Because using new software is not just about training and implementation, it often goes unused. Because we like the software we use now just fine, thank you very much, the new software often goes unused.

We succeed in software adoption when organization leaders recognize these many challenges, go beyond traditional training techniques to help employees realize the larger benefits and impact that using the new software can provide.

Train employees beyond simple functionality: We need to train our staff on how the software is used, but even more importantly, we need to train the staff on why the software is being used. What do we, as supervisors and leaders in the organization, hope the outcomes found and savings made through use of this software will be.

Model usage behaviors: Why would a member of the staff use the new software if their manager isn’t? Why should the staff be moving forward in functionality and effectiveness if the manager stays behind, using old software and technology. It’s easier not to change, and if the manager doesn’t change, then what are the compelling reasons for the staff to change?

Share clear expectations: Managers must not only make it clear to staff why the new software was deployed, but they must also consistently make a compelling use case.

  • “If you need to communicate with the team, be sure to do so on our enterprise network so everyone will see our conversation.”
  • “Thanks for sending me that file, but I’ll only read it if you share it with me from your shared drive. That way, we can easily track changes and versions.

Reward behavior: Staff is congratulated and rewarded for the fact that work gets done, but rarely are they rewarded for how work got done. Staff should be rewarded for working smarter, and for working with more impact. Staff should be rewarded for making investments pay off, and for setting an example for other staff to help realize new  levels of savings and effectiveness.

Acknowledge software shortcomings: No software does everything, and if a change is being made from a software that the staff has used for a lengthy period of time, they will experience an unwelcome change in functionality, user experience and comfort. These are changes which should all be acknowledged and supported. Change is never easy, and supervisors and management should help staff through these changes with support, understanding and care.

Make the changes that need to be made, implement the software that needs to be implemented. But don’t forget to set the usage example yourself, make expectations clear and actionable, train on functionality and usage goals, reward staff for embracing the software and be understanding of challenges and frustrations along the way.

Still, not everyone will be happy. That’s okay. At least they will feel trusted, understood and supported. Your organization will be working smarter and leaner, and when time for the next change comes, everyone will be ready.

So be calm. Use the software.

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