Getting Employees on Board With New Technology Without Kicking and Screaming
For many of us in public safety agencies, we often recall that Back In The Day, data consisted of hand-written reports, tickets and property tagging.
But now, more advanced 21st century technologies include systems like FBR, RMS, CAD, bar-coding, NG-911 and social media.
This technology has its benefits—digital tracking and reporting, more efficient work habits and better risk-management issues.
Even with all of these benefits, there are always those employees who will stubbornly resist adoption of new technology.
And “stubbornly resist” is a gentle term. Sometimes it can be more like kicking and screaming.
This resistance is usually to the change and not necessarily to the technology.
So what are the main reasons why people resist change? Here are some of the primary reasons, and we will offer some tips on how to overcome them when your agency implements new technology solutions…
Loss of Control.
Adopting new technology inevitably requires users to learn new skills.
Even small adjustments in technology demand that the user re-program muscle memory before operating efficiently again.
That re-programming can be uncomfortable for some users, especially if those users were comfortable with using the older system.
To get around this issue, expand your collection of stakeholders to include end-users (especially the ones that you know are advocates of maintaining the status quo).
By inviting these users to contribute to the RFP, selection, planning and testing sessions, you give them ownership.
You are also telling them that their feedback and opinions matter.
And in the end, you will have users who will talk highly of the new system and convince their co-workers that it is worth switching to.
Uncertainty and Surprises.
Unlike birthday parties, most employees hate “surprises” when it comes to new technology that they are suddenly being forced to use.
Users also worry about the uncertainty if they are not clearly told how the new project is going to be implemented.
When you are launching the new project, be sure to communicate throughout the process. It is better to over-communicate than it is to keep things secret and suddenly flip the switch to a new system.
Everyone should know what to expect and have time to adjust.
Provide a time-line for implementation, projected dates for compliance, competency and remedial training, etc.
But one thing you should be careful of is setting a specific go-live date. Often, these dates are not met, and you will be continually questioned about what went wrong.
Instead of a hard go-live date, you can set more of a tentative time frame like “Summer 2014.”
Loss of Face.
By its very definition, “change” is a departure from what was done in the past.
So guess what? Those colleagues who had worked on the last system will likely get defensive when it is replaced by the new technology.
It is important to celebrate those elements of the previous system that worked great while also making it clear that your agency’s needs are changing.
This will make it easier to let go and get them to move forward with the new system.
Management is Negative Too.
When your agency is launching a new technology project, it is critical to have complete buy-in by upper management and the key staff who will be implementing the project.
Seems obvious, right?
But there are times when you may inadvertently derail your own efforts when you say things like:
– “I‘m sorry we have to do this.”
– “I know everyone has better things to do.”
– “I know you don‘t like change.”
– “Some of you won’t like this.”
So be sure to avoid any statement where you are apologetic for the project or are hinting that you are not 100% confident.
You wouldn’t look forward to a comedy show if the comedian opened with, “I‘m sorry you paid to be here. I am really depressed and can’t think of anything funny to say. I know you all have better things to do.”
Next week, we will begin a series on some of the top headaches facing IT departments in public safety agencies.
The first article in this series will be about how to deal with a vendor that provides horrible customer service.
Until then, stay safe, stay tuned, and embrace change!
Special thanks go out to Christine Burke Massengale for being our guest writer for this week’s newsletter. Christine is a Training and QA Specialist with Hamilton County 9-1-1 ECD in Chattanooga, TN.
DCI has been providing its line of eAgent software to over 1,600 law enforcement agencies nationwide since 2001. From NCIC access software to advanced authentication, DCI has a solution for all things CJIS-related.
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