In our last blog, we focused on how to announce a new technology to your team without putting them on the defensive, ensuring the best attitude possible as you implement the new technology. Before introducing the product, make an announcement in writing and/or at a company-wide meeting, highlighting the positive and how your employees will benefit. Mention that there will be small-group trainings at which any questions and concerns will be addressed. Small-group training brings us to our current focus: how to use strategic training and implementation techniques to get the best results.
1. Train the Trainers
Train a small group of your most tech-savvy higher-ups first.
Once your company’s more tech-savvy field employees try out the new technology, word will get around that the new product is completely workable. Now, you have a new set of qualified trainers to pass the knowledge along, rather than banking the entire rollout on the ability of a single staff member to convey its importance and usability. There will always be someone else on hand who knows the product and can train new additions. This also takes the pressure off and protects you in case of employee turnover. Any in-office staff that will be using the software or other technology must also be trained on the product before it is tested by this first group from the field. This allows most issues to be worked out in the test round, preventing major confusion when you switch over to more widespread use.
2. Training 2.0
Training sessions should be as small as possible.
Limit training sessions to five or ten heads per group so that the focus remains tight and all questions and concerns get the proper attention. Engage with the group and encourage them to ask questions and try out the product. With a larger group, people tend to start talking or joking. It’s paramount with these initial training sessions that the import, as well as the impact, of the training is not lost. For the first six to eight weeks on the new product, keep using older methods alongside the new technology to let them know they don’t have to be perfect right out of the gate.
3. Regroup and Regroup Again
Plan to reconvene as a larger group one week into using the product.
Taking the temperature of your people in the field and how smoothly they are adopting the new technology will help you decide if you need to do any retraining, and you will have a chance to answer questions and troubleshoot if necessary. One thing you’re likely to notice is that those who “get it” will start answering questions and supplying shortcuts to those who haven’t yet mastered the product: a rising tide lifts all boats.
4. The Carrot and the Stick
Offer incentives to your employees for following instructions and adapting.
Give away a prize every week. For example, when working with implementing a new digital time and attendance system, reward those who didn’t miss a clock-in or clock-out. Try giving out a pair of movie tickets or just a $5 Starbucks gift card. Something small will do. It’s just a token of your appreciation and goodwill. It will also make those who are dragging their feet jealous—they will want a prize, too.
5. Fair Warning, Just Penalties
Give your employees an upfront deadline for learning and follow through.
Inform them up front that there will be a penalty for not fully adapting the new system by that point, when you will cease to use your old methods as a backup. Remind them of this deadline in your follow-up meetings, so they know they need to get up to speed or else. If you choose, you could enact a penalty for not using the product fully by that date. It needn’t be severe. Tell employees who cannot adapt that they’ll be put on a different task in which the technology isn’t required. Or simply warn them that any errors that occur—with the same digital time and attendance system, for instance—may result in a delay in pay.
6. Enjoy Your New Technology
Have a little fun in your follow-up meeting.
Answer any remaining questions. Be sure to talk about workday workflow—i.e. the best way for them to integrate the new technology into their workaday schedule. But don’t be afraid to crack a joke or two, at your own expense or that of the technology (not that of your team). A humorless workplace is no fun, and we spend far too much time at work to not have any fun on the job. Everyone should be up to speed within six to eight weeks at the latest. At this point, throw a pizza party or treat your workforce to burgers or ice cream. Again, it’s just a small token to show your appreciation to your team for adopting a system that will benefit you both.
Click here to check out Part III of this blog series.