It's no secret that technology has forever changed the way we work and interact. From increased efficiency and productivity to enhanced collaboration, most of the changes have been for the better. Despite the undeniable benefits, the rapid rate of these changes can make it hard to keep up — constant advancements in technology and the skills required to support complex solutions can make it feel like you're struggling to stay afloat in a sea of shifting innovations.

How do HR leaders keep their head above water? When it comes to IT change management, traditional methods simply aren't working. Here are a few ways to manage the ongoing changes in technology and help employees adjust while balancing their work.

Remember to Solve for the Human Factors

Deloitte confirms that 60 to 70 percent of all large-scale change efforts fail. Most of these changes are driven by a handful of business objectives that are increasingly achieved through technology — the need to scale up, increase profitability, reduce costs and mitigate risk. Key leaders invite a team of experts to the table, and together they develop a highly detailed, sophisticated solution to manage the organization's problem through new technology. The end product is a comprehensive, pristine plan that (if people were robots) would be flawlessly executed. And therein lies the problem: people aren't robots...they're people.

What stands in the way of success almost every single time is that our seemingly perfect solutions don't account for the human factors that prevent most change efforts from achieving their desired results. Regardless of how robust it appears to be, employee adoption is what determines the true value of new technology.

Practice What You Preach

High-performing HR organizations understand the importance of adopting a future-focused, tech-enabled approach to human capital management. According to Logical Design Solutions, organizations "cannot develop and execute on a robust digital business strategy without inherently thinking and acting in a digital manner." This would suggest that HR leaders must first be willing to drink the "Technology Kool-Aid" and apply that mindset to their own systems and processes to attract and retain an agile workforce that embraces innovative solutions.

Are you fully harnessing the power of technology to create an HCM strategy that arms people with the information and tools they need to succeed in today's workforce? HR processes tend to be rather labor-intensive without the right technologies in place to facilitate efficiency and adaptability. Much of this work can be improved (or eliminated) by integrated technologies that connect employee records, payroll and benefits administration with talent management, training and performance processes.

How can you create a work environment that fosters innovation if your own employees are too busy completing manual tasks and following inefficient processes to pursue new ideas and better ways of doing their job? Be part of the change you want to see across the organization — employees are much more likely to accept shifts in technology when they're presented by leaders who are committed to the change.

Partner With Your IT Department

Most HR leaders recognize that today's business climate requires constant, fast-paced innovation. While it's important to keep your finger on the pulse of the latest advancements in technology, the ongoing management of these changes is most effective when it's done in partnership with IT. Work closely with your CIO and IT function to monitor trends and identify new technologies that can adapt to, interact with and enhance your existing systems.

Forging a strong relationship between HR and IT will help your organization realize the most innovative use of technology with the biggest ROI. They can help you navigate the technical complexities so you have time focus on the human complexities that come into play when introducing significant technological change. This will allow your workforce to evolve as technology evolves.

Never Underestimate the Power of Communication

Communication is a key component of IT change management. However, it can be overlooked in the initial planning phases and only addressed once the change is ready to be announced to employees. This is a common miscalculation that HR leaders and experienced communicators can help organizations avoid. Work with the project team responsible for the change to create a communication strategy that accounts for the human factors that can stand in the way of success.

But, what does that look like? Consider the following two approaches.

1. Keep It Simple

  • Use brief communications that focus on action and outcomes — front-load actionable content and define specific behaviors
  • Provide the appropriate levels of training and support — including manager resources to help them lead employees through the change
  • Centralize resources, when possible, so employees have one place to go, one website to visit and one number to call to get what they need
  • Target your audiences and customize each message so it only includes relevant information for that population — e.g., manager or super-user communications

2. Evolve the Story

  • Be clear about key milestones and how the organization will define success related to the change
  • Establish small, short-term goals along the way — regular success can build confidence and momentum (plus, when you fall short of a small goal, it's easier to acknowledge and correct)
  • Give employees new information, a fresh angle and status updates — be intentional about carving out ongoing touch points to move the story forward

With this, you can develop a change communication plan that supports faster and more effective employee acceptance and higher adoption rates.

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Tags: Information Technology change management