Effective Communication in Technology Change
We have been involved in dozens of go-lives for technology. Each has it’s own challenges and victories. We have found that the most successful often follow a very active Communication Strategy that enables buy-in throughout the organization.
We live in a world where technology and software change are occurring at a rapid pace. Employees often get fatigued by constant change, especially when they do not feel that they have any influence. End Users are often over looked for input as leaders forge ahead to find ways to meet well intended goals and initiatives.
We are recommend that all leaders take a moment to clearly layout a communication and inclusion plan for new technologies that follows this format: Inform, Listen and Adapt. It’s very simple, it informs people of the change, listens for their feedback, and values their input using a clear adaptation process.
We encourage leaders to write out the entire plan, including all emails prior to starting the project so that they can be aligned with the implementation plan. It is just as important to plan how to communicate with your employees as it is to plan when to have vendors install equipment or software.
Here is a high level overview:
Inform: Provide information to staff that informs them of the coming change by presenting both intention and desired outcomes.
Many times new technology is purchased by leadership to enable their teams to be more effective and efficient. This is always a good reason to purchase, however the trickle down of information to staff does not always deliver the intended understanding. Even though leadership may feel that the acquisition of new technology was intended to benefit the team, sometimes the team feels as though something new is forced upon them and it’s “just one more thing” to do.
This phase is intended to:
- Share your vision and intention to hold the space for success. The end users in a large organization need to understand the challenges that are faced by your hospital form HCAHPS reimbursement to quality and safety penalties. Taking time to clearly explain this is critical.
- As a team, it’s everyone’s job to make sure that patients are served well. Your intention is to serve patients well by providing a new level of technology.
- Share your desire for them to provide feedback throughout the process. Simply stating that the hospital wants to hear their voice allows creates a level of transparency and trust. If your organization is not actively soliciting feedback and thanking them for it then this step will be challenging as there may be additional barriers.
- Provide End User with a description of how their world will look different. This can be done by the Clinical Solutions Analyst or the Peer Advocate from the design committee.
The genuine intention of leadership must be to engage to allow for future collaboration as the new technology is implemented and managed.
Tips for this phase:
- Establish a clear and concise message for your staff.
- Share the message using multiple types of media such as email, printed fliers, and meetings. We encourage organizations to look into social networks and videos as well.
- Make sure your message matches throughout your leadership team. Each of your managers (leaders) must deliver the same intent and information.
- Use Peer Advocates to engage with end users across all levels of the organization.
Listen: Allow end users at all levels to provide feedback on how this new technology will affect their ability to perform. This can come in both positive and negative form.
Listening has become a lost art in our fast paced mobile device driven society. Often times we hear what is being said but we cannot collaborate because we are not listening to the intention behind what is being said. Or even worse, we are thinking of how we will respond instead of absorbing their message.
During the Listen Phase:
- Take time to listen to the feedback of their end users to gather valuable insights on how the technology will change their world.
- Use the Peer Advocate to solicit deeper feedback to drive additional meaning into any changes that may need to occur.
When collecting input make sure that you are documenting and tracking it for analysis. This will allow you to categorize and analyze if there are items mentioned several times. The intention of listening is to allow end users to feel part of the process. Just because it’s qualitative (feeling) does not mean you can’t quantify the results.
Tips for Listen:
- Always Always Always thank the provider of the feedback with a genuine thank you.
Adapt: The hardest part of receiving feedback is often responding. Many times our responses will determine the perception on whether or not the feedback is valued. The goal is to engage with staff, collaborate with them, and get to the best possible solution. The challenge is not all feedback can be applied. In a large hospital there will be a number of “ways” things can be accomplished but leadership must make the final determination on how the functionality will serve their patients well.
Adapt is one of the most challenging yet most important parts of this process. We are giving the end users validation on their importance to the process yet solidifying how we are going to execute moving forward. The leaders responsibility is to make the final decision.
Adapt has two response options:
- “I appreciate your input. While that is a great idea, let me explain more about our intent……” It’s critical that you appreciate and thank every person who submits feedback (both positive and negative) but you must also recognize if they don’t understand the strategy or vision…it may be how you are describing it. Use this as an opportunity to adjust and improve.
- “This is wonderful! After receiving your feedback we can see how there is a gap in what we have put together and are adjusting…..” Again, it’s critical to appreciate and thank every person who provides feedback, and recognize you don’t always have all the answers. This is a great way to share in the win of solving a problem together. It allows the employee to have ownership as well.
For a full copy of our recommended plan with email templates and more email me firstname.lastname@example.org