An upheaval of your company’s processes may sound exciting to you, but your colleagues may be intimidated by the thought of changing up their daily routine of the last 10+ years.
In the following article, I will discuss 5 ways to help your colleagues become comfortable with the upcoming process change you have planned for their department.
Whether this is complete automation of manual tasks, or a simple digitalisation of documents, any process change is sure to bring worry to the effected party.
I have listed this as number one, simply because I feel as though this is the most important one of all.
Constant communication with your colleagues, such as daily or weekly update emails, can ease anxiety by answering a lot of the main questions and frustrations.
Letting the department know as early as possible that this is something you are looking to do will give them more time to come to terms with it.
Listening to concerns and addressing them will also help and may even convert people to want to push the process change.
Remember, communication should be about other people having a voice, and feeling involved. It is not just about you, or the project owner, dictating change
Involving the wider business is another way you can ease their concerns.
This will give them a sense of control over their future career and may also counter any jealousy or bitterness that they were not initially involved in this project.
On the flip side of this, though, do not expect them to be able to work on this process change project on top of their busy schedule.
Too much expected involvement could cause more stress than just changing the process from under them, however I think the solution here is to give the option to your colleagues.
3. Lead by example
If the process change is not a huge project and is instead something as simple as saving files to a specific folder instead of printing them out, make sure that you do not get caught out by your colleagues, as they may not take it seriously.
As a human you are not perfect, but when it comes to this process change you must be infallible.
Show everyone how to follow the new process, make sure they are comfortable and be visible in following the process to keep everyone’s mind on it so they don’t lapse into bad habits.
Effectively communicating how and when to take on the changes, step by step, can make this a lot easier.
4. Accept feedback and act on it
If you are listening to feedback, worries, and concerns about the change, don’t let them fall on deaf ears.
Be seen to care about every single concern, and either comfort them with an immediate response, or let them know that you will get back to them with an answer – and make sure you do!
Hold forums with your colleagues to address any issues in front of as large an audience as possible, this will reduce repeat questions and will show your confidence in the new process.
And of course, make sure any good ideas to come from colleagues are heard and actioned.
If someone makes a point and you dismiss or ignore it, chances are it will come back and bite you later, you may lose trust, and may add complications to the process change.
Remember to also ensure that any ideas from your colleagues that are implemented and bring benefit are credited to them, simply including this in communications will bring more people in side.
5. Don’t take too long
Whilst you don’t want to be rushing into anything without including everyone, you must also acknowledge that if you take too long to implement a change with technology, that technology will eventually become obsolete.
People upgrade their mobile phones every year or two, why wouldn’t business tech transform as quickly as personal?
One of the biggest problems with process change projects is announcing a change and then nothing happening for 12+ months.
By this time a newer, sleeker, version of the software has been produced and you no longer have the latest tech.
The quicker you implement and start saving the better, and your team will respect you more if you put your words into actions instead of spending too long weighing pros and cons.
Don’t be afraid to fail fast and learn, as this will be detrimental to progress.
So, how can you ease employees into process change?
All in all, process change is a good thing.
Something we need support with in order to complete.
The best place to get support is from the group of people who will be affected the most.
These people will also be the most worried about any change in routine.
You must acknowledge the challenge up ahead, and combat it in the right way, for your project to be successful.
People are the hardest variable in your business to change, but effective and regular communication will make this a lot easier.
These are 5 things that you can do to help, but there are many more.
In my last article, I discussed the 5 biggest mistakes in Accounts Payable and how to fix them, read it here.