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How to deal with pushback on technology initiatives

by Ana Lopez
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Change in all aspects of life is as inevitable as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west – nothing stays the same. While technology adoption has increased in recent years, management and technology companies still have work ahead of them. Defending change is no easy feat, and neither is leadership. So, here are a few ways technology leaders can handle pushback on various technology initiatives, as well as a few signals to help leaders identify pushback on these initiatives:

1. Create strong base data

When making changes, most business leaders look for fundamental data. This kind of data shows what technology is, what it does, how it does it and, most importantly, the beneficial outcomes. Fundamental data should be well formatted and easy to interpret.

Related: Change is good. Now, how to get employees to buy in

2. Lean on your soft skills

IT leaders may rely on something other than their soft skills to get the job done, but these skills are essential for establishing productive dialogue. A conversation ensures that all parties feel heard and decisions are not one-sided. Effective communication and attentive listening can make technology initiatives succeed.

3. Cut out the long speeches; for the biggest part

The thing about speeches is that they could be more interactive. This one-way flow of information can backfire because the public can feel alienated from a process in which they are supposed to participate. The best way to combat this is to make the whole process as interactive as possible. Let each stakeholder handle the new technology at their own pace. You are likely to get unanimous support from multiple echelons if each of them can realize the benefits firsthand.

4. Impromptu Troubleshooting

Patience and determination are not virtues associated with most mega companies and industries. What people want are systems that work with minimal effort and accurate results. All technical initiatives that are difficult to get off the ground are less likely to be adapted to regular use. The backlash is likely to be worst if something fails during implementation, so fast response time is critical to implementing technical initiatives.

5. Actively campaign against false assumptions

Your staff may be exposed to unfounded rumors and assumptions about technical changes that can destabilize the initiative. Some obvious fears your employees may face include:

In such times it is essential to discredit the concerns of each individual using proven facts and recorded data. Make sure employees don’t think the employer’s new technology initiative is directly against their collective well-being.

It’s not always about the money, so proving to stakeholders that the technology initiative can generate more profit is only sometimes the right move. Some may consider attempting to buy evidence that the product will meet opposition from employees at various levels.

Related: How to Become a Successful Change Leader

Identify pushback against technology initiatives

One of the most devastating mistakes people make in a crisis is not realizing they are in a crisis. The quickest way to cut through technology disagreements in any environment is to realize it’s happening. Here are a few ways you can spot pushback in any wallpaper:

Denial:

Most people’s first reaction to sudden and unexpected change is denial. Employees and stakeholders can declare new technology obsolete and advocate the logic that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. It is up to the technology companies and the management of the top company to prove to the employees that the new system is beneficial in several ways.

One way to counter denial is to clearly illustrate the benefits of technical initiatives by presenting them in a common language that everyone can understand. Feedback channels are critical at this stage as they give you an action plan for implementation. For example, by creating online company groups, employees can ask questions and receive information in real time.

withdrawal:

Denial and detachment often go hand in hand. In this phase, employees will quickly deal with any changes in the company with a nonchalant attitude. This behavior is more common when technology initiatives are pushed down everyone’s throats. This approach can make it challenging and tedious to get everything done in the workplace. The perfect way to handle withdrawal is to encourage goals such as giving bonuses, rewards and allowances to employees who excel at adopting new technology.

Derailment:

This is the “what, don’t you think we have other/real problems?” approach usually taken by people in an organization who feel disadvantaged by the new changes. These groups often exaggerate the importance of simpler tasks to invalidate changes. The best way to combat this symptom of technological propriety is to ensure no tasks are neglected through proper planning and resource allocation. One way to plan effectively is to make the schedule visible and easy to interpret, such as posting it on a bulletin board or sending it to individual employees’ work emails.

Related: Managing resistance to change within an agile organization

A lack of motivation:

You may notice that employees are less willing to perform their duties, especially if they use new technology. This is often the case if the technology is not fully functional or needs to be equipped to smoothly handle the current capacity. Employees may also act unmotivated if the new technology creates additional work and the company is unwilling to compensate.

One such trend is the silent stop trend, which is driven by a similar trend in numerous industries. Demotivation may seem harmless at first, but it can eventually hit the business with a reality that many companies have realized too late. Having employees who are willing to go the extra mile gives a company a competitive advantage, and the opposite can lead to a company’s rapid decline. The best way to deal with demotivated employees is to stimulate tasks. Creating a competitive work culture can also help if the winner gets a coveted prize.

Don’t expect all employees to step on the bandwagon with a smile. The most important thing when implementing technology initiatives is keeping communication channels open. The flow of information vertically and horizontally across different organizational levels can create a better working environment and smoother technical integration. Implementing technology initiatives can avoid opposition, especially if you build trust and ensure open feedback channels.

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