Upgrading legacy systems is noble, but if organizations don’t meet the workforce concerns and needs simultaneously, the modernization effort will suffer. This blog is addressing the system user workforce and later blogs will address the needs of the IT workforce and the stakeholders.
Users and their managers often resist change and are slow to adopt the newly modernized system or application in their work wasting coveted budget dollars and time. Why?
Here are the most common reasons we see for user resistance to new system or technology adoption:
- Users perceive (accurately or not) that the new technology doesn’t fit into the current business process and do not understand the intended new business process,
- The new technology doesn’t meet the user’s needs, i.e. they fear they cannot do their job as effectively as before,
- The user doesn’t know what is expected of them in relation to the new system,
- Current workers may perceive (accurately or not) they lack the skills needed, and/or
- Agency culture doesn’t reward the behaviors needed to reward adoption of new processes and systems.
Many Government IT leaders realize that the workforce is part of the challenge when updating legacy systems. However, there is not yet clarity that there are solutions they can and should implement to help solve the people problem.
Government leaders must invest in workforce transformation as an integral part of their IT modernization efforts.
There are solutions out there to help government leaders and IT organizations accelerate adoption to ensure faster more economical adoption. Some you should consider include:
- Facilitated workshops and conversations can be leveraged to uncover and address user perceptions of process and IT misalignment. Workflow can be assessed, and the workforce can be restructured to ensure the business process and people allocation supports the new technology. Organizational performance experts can illustrate to staff how elimination/ reduction of manual tasks can eliminate redundancies, gain efficiencies, and streamline processes to make their jobs easier in the long run. By working with an unbiased 3rd party, all stakeholders can safely voice their concerns and know that the goal is to achieve success, not place blame.
- Change management communications should be leveraged to increase awareness of expectations and timing. Engaging the workforce to understand and address drivers, issues, and risks will promote adoption. By communicating regularly, you can assess the understanding of ongoing information requirements and address challenges as they arise—leaning on the people who use the new system to help solve the problem. Communications that emphasize how role-specific user needs are addressed must be part of the strategy.
- Talent development solutions can help upskill and cross train employees. Competency assessments will help identify and close proficiency gaps in key skill areas and serve as foundation for development programs. Workforce assessments can be used to establish knowledge, skill, and ability requirements. Role-specific training on the system and business process requirements for users to get their actual jobs done is critical. And workforce planning enables the organization to identify critical roles, key retraining areas, and align talent to changing needs.
- Team velocity can be improved with group coaching to get smarter—improving their agility and flexibility. Team effectiveness programs will align members on goals and roles—promoting better and faster adoption. By identifying and eliminating the barriers that hinder performance you will improve the team’s capacity and resilience.
- Performance goals and incentives can be established and aligned to reward business acumen and speed of adoption. By clarifying expectations up front, with appropriate incentives in place, you are better positioned to drive the necessary staff behavior for your IT modernization efforts to succeed.
- Leadership coaching can be employed to make sure that leaders are supported throughout the change and that they are working on building their own capacity and resilience to lead their staff through the changes. Change leadership coaching can also be used to create leadership accountability for implementing operational or technical changes that a leader needs to make as part of the modernization effort.
These workforce transformation solutions combine to ensure that your federal workforce is primed to support your Agency’s digital transformation.
Only by considering the PEOPLE part of the project AS BIG as the technology solution, can federal agencies ensure complete adoption of modernized systems. Workforce readiness is REAL and is POSSIBLE, if government IT leaders include it as a critical part of the adoption management protocol. Not only will you reap the benefits of faster, more sustainable adoption of new technologies, but in the process, but also you will improve retention and engagement, by increasing job satisfaction and morale amid the changing environment.