5 Ways to Motivate Employees to Adopt New Technology
Introducing new technology to your team can be a daunting task. It can even be scary.
If people have been doing things one way for years or even decades, it’s usually not easy to get them to change their habits for the sake of new technology. Even if there are huge benefits to the new tools and even if the learning curve isn’t very steep, you can still see pushback or apathy, or a combination of the two.
This presents a major challenge for managers, because sometimes using new tools can radically improve a team’s performance, efficiency, or effectiveness. Almost every kind of business — especially large, established firms — can see improvement in productivity by better use of technology. A study from MIT Sloan Management Review even found that managers see “digital transformation” as critical to their organization, but 63 percent said that adoption of new technology was happening too slowly.
So how can you take a winning piece of technology and get your team to actually use it and eventually come to love it? We’ve found that it all comes down to the approach you use when rolling out something new. From selecting the technology to training and follow-up, each step is important in determining how it will be received.
Let’s look at a few of the ways your organization can roll out new technology that actually gets used and isn’t left on the shelf.
1. Choose simplicity
From the outset, the technology you choose to adopt will play a big role in how difficult it is to get employees on board.
A simple tool like Droplr may still create some friction just because it’s something new and different. But cumbersome, complicated tools that require extensive training and research will be met with major resistance and may never really get off the ground.
This puts the onus on the managers and executives who choose the technology to carefully evaluate their options and heavily consider the ease of use of the product when selecting something new.
Keep in mind that the difficulty of adoption for a single piece of technology is not a one-off, universal calculation. The learning curve is different for each person and relative to their general knowledge and experience using similar tools. Teaching someone to use InDesign will be much easier if they’ve had years of experience using Photoshop.
So when you consider how difficult a solution may be, you should consider a range of factors:
- Who will be using this technology regularly?
- Do they have experience using this kind of a tool?
- Is there any comparable technology in terms of functionality or interface?
- Do they understand the language or the context of the tool?
2. Sell it
One thing that often gets overlooked is how a new tool is rolled out to the team. It can be introduced as something that they must use — part of the company policy — or it can be presented as a new tool that will help them and make their job easier.
It’s easy to say, “I’m the boss, now use this.” But this approach can create a great deal of tension and pushback.
If your team feels like they’re being forced into using new technology, they’ll never have a sense of ownership over the tool or feel fully invested in its success. They may even have the opposite reaction and intentionally try to sabotage it because it’s something they don’t like. And these things can be just the tip of the iceberg: this kind of top-down directive approach can create lasting hostility in the workplace that may result in even bigger problems down the road.
Instead, you should sell the product to the team as something that benefits them.
Help them see the value in the technology: how it will affect their workflow, their habits, and their productivity. Then connect that to their needs. As the saying goes, “sell the benefits.”
With this approach, you’re offering them something that can provide value directly to them.
3. Build a coalition of the willing
Don’t start out by trying to get everyone on board.
Start with a small group of people who are willing to try the new technology, get them to use it, try it, and provide feedback. These people will eventually become your team evangelicals, helping to promote the value of the new tools and even offer some support if the rest of your team needs help getting up and running.
It’s important to let this group of early adopters volunteer for this opportunity if at all possible.
As they’re using the new tool, get their feedback. Ask questions like:
- How do you see this technology creating value for the team?
- How will this technology make your job easier? The job of others?
- Will it create new challenges or obstacles?
- How would you describe or sell it to the rest of the team?
Keep in mind that if you’re the boss, the team will often have conversations when you’re not around. So having people within the team who support the vision that you’re trying to create will be beneficial.
4. Give people a reason to use it
A big mistake that many teams make when trying to roll out a new piece of technology is that they have a big meeting, maybe offer a big training on the technology, and then never follow up beyond the initial kick off.
Unless the new tool is integral to their daily job, it’s easy for team members to just go about their day, business as usual, without ever adopting the new tool.
One way to combat this is to give your team a reason to use it. Set up a project, presentation, or exercise that will get them using the tool in a real-world way. Don’t make it frivolous. Use this as an opportunity to get people really using the tool and seeing the value and the benefit of its use first hand.
If you’ve chosen a good piece of technology that will appreciably improve the work that people do, it should be easy for them to see the value as soon as they start to use it.
5. Celebrate the wins
The new technology you’re introducing is meant to help your team improve what they do, right?
Then help everyone see that. Make it a point to celebrate wins that come from use of the tools and help the rest of the team get a sense for the value it creates. The win may not always be obvious to everyone, but the effects may be felt by many.
With Droplr, for example, teams often celebrate the quick turnaround times they’re able to generate on design projects because of the simple capture and markup tools. This kind of back and forth can be cumbersome for many teams and often a sticking point on projects. But teams that use the right technology can review, revise, and iterate as quickly as they can copy and paste links.
All together, these strategies are aimed to help motivate employees to use new technology independently rather than forced adoption. This is generally a better approach than trying to force your team to use a new system. Not only does that lead to less-than-enthusiastic (and probably sub-optimal) usage, but it can also create bigger problems within your team.
At the end of the day, you just need to help your team see the value that technology brings to their day and also creates for the entire team. That’s usually enough to get them excited about using a new tool.