Tools like Basecamp, Trello, and Slack all have their own pros and cons. But properly integrating tools into the workplace is about more than what tools you choose — it’s about thinking carefully about how to implement them and how to use them in a way that improves time management, boosts productivity, and keeps employees moving forward on things. So, you’ve chosen the tools and put them in place, but how do you make sure that they work for your team? Let’s take a look.
Think About a System That Makes Sense for Your Team
If you want to maximize the efficacy of the tools your company is using, you need to integrate them into an overarching system. Moreover, when developing that system, you need to think about what makes the most sense for your team. In other words, whether you’re implementing a project management tool as part of a new collaboration process or a new communication tool to facilitate improved communication between departments, you need to think about whether that tool fits into the bigger picture. You should never just choose tools at random without thinking how they can be integrated into your company.
Train Employees on the Relevant Processes and Procedures
In order for the tools you’ve chosen to benefit your company, your employees actually have to use them. And that requires buy-in from your employees. After all, your employees simply aren’t going to put the time and effort into using something that they feel is a complete waste of time. So, how do you get buy-in? Well, it is all about proper training.
“Many leaders don’t adequately relay the right messaging through the ranks, leaving personnel feeling disinterested and aloof,” Daniel Newman, president of Broadsuite, explained in Entrepreneur. “As much as management likes the idea of a solution, if employees fight against adoption, they’ll face a long and uphill battle to meet their goals. My advice is to make buy-in available at every level. You can see the potential of a new tool to save time, drive innovation, and add to the bottom line, and now you need to sell that vision to the people who will use the technology every day.”
Training communicates why new processes and tools matter, and it also shows employees how to use them. The more unfamiliar and uncomfortable employees are with tools, the more resistance you will face when it comes time to use them. Make sure employees have access to the information they need to be able to use any new tools effectively, and encourage them to attend internal training sessions.
Reinforce That the Process Matters
After training, you continually need to reinforce that the process and tools supporting it matter. Why? Because people like routine — it’s easy and it’s comfortable. In order to get your employees to use a new tool in a new process, you need to convince them why they should break their old routine and start a new one. The bottom line is that employees aren’t going to break their routines and start to use new tools in new processes unless they understand why they are important and why they matter. That means that you need to effectively communicate to your team what the process is doing and how it will make life for themselves and for the company easier.
“From trial to companywide rollout, communication is necessary at every stage to lay out the value and goals of the change. It's important to explain the pain point you're solving,” Michael Pryor, CEO of Trello, explained in Inc. “If people don't agree there's a problem, they're less likely to want to embrace your solution. Once you're ready for the full transition, develop a clear plan for how you will communicate the shift.”
And remember, communication is always a two-way street. It isn’t just talking to your employees; it’s also about listening to what they have to say. “Make sure to designate a place where feedback can be voiced,” Pryor added. “Creating a place where people can leave feedback will alleviate more concerns than you may realize. Sometimes people just need a place to understand their opinion is heard before they move forward with a change. They want to feel included in the decision-making process, rather than have someone dictate what they do or how they work.” To solicit feedback, you may want to consider scheduling informal training sessions or implementation kickoff events that combine education with socialization so that people are more comfortable sharing their opinion and experiences.
While employees should have an idea of how a new tool or new process will benefit them individually, it is also important to emphasize how it will benefit their colleagues and improve things for the company as a whole, an aspect of transitions that is often poorly communicated. “If employees work in silos, completing the equivalent of assembly line work, they may not understand the importance of how using a new application will help support the company’s overall consumer interactions,” Newman explained. He added that when workers are able to fully “understand the big picture for the business and its vision for the future, they can more easily comprehend and support the need” for change and the necessity of adopting new tools and processes.
Put Someone in Charge
As Rob Berbshteyn explained in Forbes, “The rub is, how can you be certain your employees will a) adopt it, and b) really gravitate to the tool and want to use it, versus resorting to traditional, alternative methods they already know well?” The good news is that putting someone in charge of new tools and processes can help ensure both of these things.
Employees may need some prompting to use new tools and integrate them into their workday, especially at first. It’s only natural. That’s why it is a good idea to put someone in charge of them. Appoint a transition leader or change management leader to check in on people and ensure that they are using the new tools and processes. This should be done in a friendly and encouraging way, and if people are struggling to adapt, it is important to figure out why. They may simply need extra support or training.
Last but not least, you may want to consider setting a deadline for implementation. You can give your staff some time to get comfortable with a new process, but it is best to make it clear that there is an absolute deadline by which they are expected to have transitioned. Of course, it is your job to make sure employees have all the support they need to transition by the deadline.
The bottom line is that putting some thought into how your tools will be used can go a long way in ensuring that they are actually adopted. Therefore, the more you plan for the implementation, the better.
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