Moving a Team to Collaboration Software: Planning for Change

Collaboration Software Adoption

108.7 billion business emails are sent and received each day. The average business user sends and receives more than 120 of those emails a day — and at your organization, that number might be even higher.

It’s no wonder that your employees and colleagues are spending hours every day in email!

You’ve figured out that it’s time to transition everyone onto a collaboration platform to enhance your communication effectiveness, save time and improve your team’s productivity.

However, here’s where it can get tricky for leaders: Change on this scale can be challenging. It can even feel a little risky.

Everyone in your organization already knows how to use email. Convincing and then leading a team (or an organization of thousands of people) to change the way they communicate and collaborate can be hard.

In my work guiding teams and entire companies through technology transitions, I’ve been inspired by the work of Dan and Chip Heath, wonderfully realized in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.

How can you ensure a smooth, successful transition in your organization when it comes to collaboration software adoption? It’s all about planning for change. Drawing on some of my favorite principles from Switch, here are the 3 roadblocks to change that you’ll want to identify — and recommendations for successfully navigating them using 5 proven change management processes.

Why is change hard?

All change efforts boil down to the same mission: can you get people to start behaving in a new way? And this is hard to do.

When you try to change things, you are usually trying to change behaviors that have become automatic. And the larger the change you want the more it will deplete people’s self-control. Self-control is an exhaustible resource.

So when people exhaust their self-control, what they are exhausting are the mental muscles needed to make a big change.

Change is hard because people wear themselves out.

To avoid exhausting your team during a change effort, the first step is to identify the roadblocks to change.

Identify the 3 roadblocks to change

The three roadblocks to change often masquerade as resistance, laziness and people. However, don’t let these masks fool you.

What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.

The first roadblock to change is a lack of clarity, not resistance from your team and colleagues. We will all spin our wheels indefinitely unless given clear direction.

What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.

The second roadblock to change is not that your colleagues are getting lazy — it’s that change wears us out. Just because we know something intellectually does not ensure an emotional connection.

What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.

We are frequently blind to the power of situations. People have a systematic tendency to ignore the situational forces that shape other people’s behavior.

This is called “Fundamental Attribution Error,” a phrase coined by Stanford psychologist Lee Ross. The error lies in our inclination to attribute behavior to the way they are rather than the situation they are in.

5 ways to navigate the roadblocks to change

Once you identify the roadblocks to change, you can successfully navigate each one by pointing to the destination, scripting the critical moves, finding the feeling, shrinking the change and tweaking the environment.

1. Point to the destination

Remember, what looks like resistance from your team and colleagues is often a lack of clarity. That’s why to make progress on a change, you need to show your team and colleagues where to go, how to act and what destination to pursue.

Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it is worth it. Your goal is to paint a rich, detailed picture of what the right destination looks like. It is concrete. You can see it in your head. It is motivational. You can understand why it’s a destination worth chasing. And it’s clear enough that you know when to celebrate.

2. Script the critical moves

We have seemingly limitless choices. But more options, even good ones, can freeze us and make us retreat to the default plan or behaviors.

The more choices we are offered, the more exhausted we get. To prevent exhaustion, be exceptionally clear about the steps people need to take. Be specific and concrete. Pick just one place to start. And ensure that the critical move will provide a quick win for the team.

3. Find the feeling

Change is hard because it wears us out. To combat exhaustion you must “find the feeling.” What’s in it for each team member? What’s in it for the organization? Remember, knowing something is not enough to cause change. You must make people feel something.

4. Shrink the change

We are all easily spooked, easily derailed and easily demoralized, which is why a sense of progress is critical. So you need to make the change small enough that your team or colleague cannot help but score a victory.

Plan for small wins. Small wins are meaningful and they are within immediate reach. Burnout happens when a team confronts the same problem over and over again without feeling progress. Ensure that your team does not have to wait longer than a few hours or a few days before they experience success.

5. Tweak the environment

Remember, you’re not dealing with a “people problem” — it’s a situation problem. When the situation changes, the behavior changes. So change the situation so that the right behaviors are more likely. What can you modify in the environment to make it easier and more natural for people to take actions that support the change?

It’s exciting to jump into sharing new software or technology. And if you can make the time to work through these steps, you’re much more likely to ensure a smooth and successful adoption process in your team or organization.

Considering collaboration platforms? Redbooth makes it easier for your team to increase productivity and reduce email overload at the same time. Discover how >>