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How to overcome user resistance to new technology

Shiv Jeet Rai
August 25, 2021

We are all aware of the benefits of digitalization. Bringing new technology into the organization can increase productivity, boost sales, and help the leaders make faster and better decisions. The list of perks goes on. However, no matter how cool and disruptive the new technology is; it is completely useless until employees actually adopt it. In this blog we will look at some of the main reasons why people resist technological change. And more importantly; we will explore some strategies on how to overcome them.

Understand why people resist

For employees, digital transformation is much more than just another buzzword. At the most fundamental level digital transformation in any company means a change to job roles. This poses a threat to employees’ sense of security and purpose in the workplace. Key reasons people resist change, among other, are:

  • Lack of communication and the feeling of not being consulted.
  • Not seeing any personal or overall benefits of utilizing the new technology.
  • Fear of the unknown and not having the required skillset for upcoming tasks.
  • Feeling demotivated due to getting out of old habits and having to start learning systems and processes again.
  • Fear of being redundant

Thus, anticipate that some resistance will be met when new software/technology is introduced. Of course, there will be a few who are willing to make that leap of faith and get onboard right away. However, for the majority, the implementation will have to be led from a position of empathy and by using strategies that address their concerns.  

Strategies to overcome user resistance

  1. Cast a vision and make people understand why bringing the new technology is vital

If employees understand why the changes are being made, and more importantly they are able to see how new technologies and new innovations will make their jobs and their lives better, they will be far more willing to adapt. Thus, show confidence and enthusiasm towards the changes and be optimistic about them yourself. This way we will be able to create a shared vision, while the employees will feel more comfortable and accepting.

2. Designate champions within teams and empower employees to help each other

Make a group of employees, from different teams, into champions by turning them to experts in using the new technology. This way they can pass the knowledge to the rest of their departments, while functioning as advocators on why old habits must be changed to utilize the new system to the fullest. The learning can be achieved by early engagement and making the transformation a bit fun. Have early demos of proof of concepts, and launch training sessions where anyone who learns or demonstrates the new concepts are rewarded. The prize does not need to be financial, but something that raises the moral.

3. Create a workplace of change

Having an atmosphere that encourages “try and fail” reduces the resistance to change. To do that, ensure that the change is supported from top level and down. Just because a new software is introduced, it does not necessarily mean that the sponsorship should come from the IT department alone. In the end non-technical employees often tend to be more resilient to changes that are solely coming from IT. It is therefore a good idea to sponsor the new technology through HR instead when the change is affecting the way employees work.

4. Establish new routines and ensure that they are followed in the beginning

Creating new routines is a natural action when new technology is introduced. However, the temptation and willingness to let go of old habits is not easy. Adopting to new processes can be incredibly challenging. As with almost everything, the start is always the hardest. Thus, ensure that new routines are followed firmly in the beginning as it brings little value to use the new system as the prior one.

To sum up:

In today’s day and age, technological change is not only unavoidable, it is vital in ensuring that the company stays current and competitive. By adopting some, or all, of the strategies above, we can lead from a position of empathy while having their concerns heard. This will enable us to reduce the employees fears and help the colleagues easier overcome the user resistance they initially had. So embrace the relevant strategies and starting reaping the benefits of the new technology.  

About the author

Senior Consultant | Norway
Shiv Jeet is a strong engineering professional with knowledge about how to model, design and control various of complex dynamical systems used within applications in shipping and offshore, automotive and aviation industry. He is a technical consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the finance and the automotive industry.


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