How to overcome resistance to change
I originally wrote this article on LinkedIn but I think it deserves a place here too.
Having worked on several document management and automation projects I’ve found that the biggest challenge our customers face once DocuWareis launched is resistance to the change from end users.
Nobody likes change and transitioning from a paper-based system to an entirely digital one can be jarring.
Indeed, it can be that fear of change and disruption that sometimes prevents businesses from opting for DocuWare in the first place, even though they recognise the difference it would make.
Of those that have made the jump I’ve seen some struggle with it – and I’ve seen businesses deal with it brilliantly. I want to share with you how these companies introduced a whole new way of working with very little resistance. Perhaps it’ll put your mind at ease.
Probably the most important thing to do is communicate early, often and transparently with staff. Use clear, jargon free language, use metaphors and analogies, use anything that explains the what, why and how of the coming change. The longer they have to prepare for it, the easier it will be.
This includes openly acknowledging that for some it will be difficult and assuring them it is for their benefit, as well as for the company. You’ll be making their jobs easier so they can work more efficiently and productively.
Empower your resistors
In my experience the most resistance will come from those who have been with you the longest and/or those in more senior positions. In other words, those who “have always done it this way” and think “I don’t need to change what I do, it works”.
The key here, as successfully demonstrated by several of our customers, is to involve them early in the process.
Assign them to the project in its development and testing stages. Let them experience the benefits of the change early and first hand, let them have a say in the direction it goes (within reason, of course!).
Encourage questions and provide answers. You may discover new perspectives or ideas you hadn’t thought about before – another reason to do this early.
Lastly on this point, when you get the most resistant people in your business talking positively about the change, any further issues are likely to fade away.
Create advocates and support systems
Another common issue is fear of the unknown. The “what if…”. What if this doesn’t work, what if this goes wrong, what if I do something wrong…
You can easily avoid this by providing support mechanisms as part of the project. That includes training and ongoing support.
Nominating a “go to” person in the business who is familiar with the processes and basic workings of the system and who can answer end user queries in the early days and later identify issues will be hugely beneficial.
What I’m saying is…find a willing and able DocuWare advocate (or two!) in house who your staff can go to with questions and issues and who is knowledgeable and approachable enough to answer and solve them quickly.
No more “what if” because you have provided support mechanisms offering guidance, empathy and a sense of security.
Finally, encourage feedback (aka complaints!).
As thorough as you have been in scoping, developing and launching your DocuWare system it’ll be your end users that use it daily and they will have valuable insight that can make it better.
By giving them the platform to provide
compl…give feedback…you will give them the confidence to use the system more, avoiding the resistance to change and fear of the unknown. Your staff will appreciate that their voices are being heard.
Choosing DocuWare to automate your business processes and increase your productivity is a big decision – but if the only thing holding you back is fear of change then I hope this article has removed that final barrier. Resistance to change can be managed, mitigated and even prove advantageous.