Some of the biggest challenges growing enterprises face are the changes that happen along the way—this is especially true for those who get stuck in the “this is how we’ve always done it” mindset. Technology has definitely altered commerce forever, and those that have made adjustments by adopting the newest tech trends are more likely to end up leaps and bounds ahead of their more traditional minded competitors.
Embracing new technology does not, of course, happen overnight, and it’s not always easy. Your company will need time to learn how to operate new hardware, use new software and apply new mobile platforms, apps and strategies to your business. You must also address all the safety and usability issues that come with adopting new tech—but it can certainly be worth the learning curve. Commit your workforce to these changes, but do not force it. Change is a process, and these four steps will help tremendously.
Personally Embrace Change
Lead from the top down. Show your company you are personally embracing this change, and your workforce will be more receptive to follow along beside you. “Do as I say, not as I do” might work on your kids, but won’t be very motivating to your employees. Mobile platforms, social media initiatives and cloud-based solutions are just a few of the potential changes you can incorporate into how you run your business. Take the time to evaluate opportunities for improvement, how they can enhance your brand, and how they will benefit your workforce. If employees see that their leaders fully understand a new technological innovation and are excited and knowledgeable about it, they are far more likely to embrace the idea, and embrace the technology.
Tell The Story
Explain why this change is necessary, how it is going to happen, and how it is going to affect everyone in the workforce. Make sure they understand you’re not embarking on this change simply because “everyone else is doing it.” Do your research, and check that you can fully explain what the adjustment is exactly, why it is important and necessary, how it will affect your operations and employees and, of course, why they should be excited about it. Create a company culture that maintains its brand image and mission while embracing and successfully implementing new technology. Employees will appreciate being part of a forward-thinking company, one that values employee growth and provides opportunities for learning.
Listen to employees’ questions and concerns, and heed any warnings they might share with you. You might be surprised just how many of your employees are already tech savvy, and may have experiences—good and bad—with one platform or another. Help them understand how their jobs will be affected, and if they are worried, address those issues ahead of time. Prepare them for the change, and they are more likely to embrace it. Employees are more passionate about their work if they feel like they are valued as a person instead of a commodity. Issuing edicts from the boss’ office without explanation or engagement is rarely well-received in any workforce. If workers know their employers value their input, they will be much more receptive to something new.
Share The Results
Change initiatives always need follow-up. Measure and share the success of the modifications you make. Employees will value the fact that you included them in a successful transition and will appreciate the success much more if they can see it for themselves—especially if they learned new software, adapted to new practices or took on new responsibilities.
More than likely, the effects of change to your technological practices will go largely unnoticed by a portion of the workforce. Without a follow-up or recap of the results, these individuals will be left wondering why the big news and new policies were necessary. Get ahead of this issue by demonstrating why it was a necessary transformation, and outline their role in its success.
Change can be an enormous business challenge, so it is important that your workforce supports you. Even difficult transitions will be much more well-received and effectively implemented if employees understand what is being done, why it needs to happen and how they and the company will benefit in the short and long-term.
Take charge, and lead by example. Show your peers and personnel that embracing new technology will be a positive change; involve them in the process, and follow up after the fact. Follow the above steps, and you will be well on your way to successfully moving your business into the future, with employees who understand the process and support your initiatives.
A version of this post was first published on Forbes on3/7/16.