Some people just don't like change. This is especially true when it comes to changes in technology that they use every day to accomplish work tasks that bring their own set of stressors. Folks learn something, fall into a routine and then just want it to stay the same. This is understandable; technology is an enabler to accomplish a goal, not a goal in and of itself. Unfortunately, the only constant with technology is change. New versions of operating systems are released, new mobile platforms, new portal technology and on and on. Vendors drop support of older technologies over time, forcing us as technology leaders to impose change upon our user base. Not all of your users will react to change in the same way and you should therefore not adopt a one size fits all approach to your change management strategy.
Leverage You Champions
Not all of your users will be resistant to change. Just as consumer technologies have a predictable early adopters portion associated with their user adoption curve, so too will your corporate technologies. Some users will be excited about the new features of a technology; some will be excited to be "first" when it comes to something new. Whatever their motives, identify your champions, get the technology in their hands early and most of all, make sure they are happy. Let these folks serve as your sounding board across the organization. Let them go to meetings, present to a group of their peers and show off "cool" new features of your new operating system. Let them sit with their peers in airports, bring up your mobile app and gain access to information their peers don’t have. These are your evangelists, treat them well and let them spread the word.
Take Care of the Masses
The majority of your user base will adopt new technology with only a short period needed to get over the proverbial "hump". Most users won’t be vocal in either direction, positive or negative. It is important to actively generate feedback from the majority to ensure true issues are separated from expected transition grumps. Pay close attention to related tickets in support desk ticketing systems, talk to as many people as you can looking for common themes and clearly document your findings to identify trends. Don’t confuse standard grumping with true wider spread issues. Nearly everyone will be slightly more vocal regarding their dislikes versus their likes. The key is to separate true, constructive feedback from simple "I don’t like this because it is not what I had before" feedback. This leads to the last group of users.
Marginalize the Hold Outs
Some people will not be pleased no matter what. Once you have listened carefully to the majority of your users, addressed the true issues related to your new technology and have started getting wide spread, positive feedback, move on. Don’t let your team spend 80% of their time struggling to please 20% of the people. If you have pleased your early adopters, won the acceptance of your masses and received positive feedback from all levels of your organization, you have succeeded. Again, make sure the few hold outs do not truly have legitimate complaints, have you over looked something specific to their job? Be sure to share your positive feedback in a very public way so as to not let the few remaining complaints become the only remaining voice being heard following a technology change.