Convincing skeptics to adopt new technology

Bringing new technology and tools into your organization can increase productivity, boost sales and help you make better, faster decisions. But getting every employee on board is often a challenge. What can you do to increase early and rapid adoption?

“Employees need to understand why [the new technology] is an improvement from what they had before,” says Didier Bonnet, co-author of “Leading Digital” and global practice leader at Capgemini Consulting. “The job of a manager is to help people cross the bridge – to get them comfortable with the technology, to get them using it, and to help them understand how it makes their lives better.”

Leaders should expect to face luddites, people who aren’t naturally tech-savvy and naysayers whose knee-jerk reaction is to oppose new things. “There are always some people who have their routines, and they just don’t want to change,” says Michael C. Mankins, a partner in Bain & Company’s San Francisco office and the leader of the firm’s organization practice in the Americas. “That [attitude] persists as long as the organization permits it.”

Here are some ideas for encouraging the adoption of a new technology:

+ Choose technology wisely. When you’re shopping around for a new technology bear your team’s interests in mind. Functionality is critical, but so is user-friendliness. Technologies that require multiday training programs and hefty user manuals are a surefire recipe for employee bellyaching and a stalled adoption.

+ State your case. Persuading your team to adopt a new technology requires putting forth a “compelling vision for what the technology is and what it’s going to do,” says Bonnet. You must demonstrate the new service offers “economic and rational benefits for the organization and the individual,” says Mankins.

+ Customize training. Some employees might prefer an online training session; others might need a bit more handholding and support in the form of a personal coach.

+ Get influencers onboard. In the early stages of the launch, focus on getting “a network of champions” fully invested in the new technology, so they can “coach others on how to use the tools to their benefit,” says Bonnet. This “group of evangelists” should “replicate the organization” and include your star performers.

+ Make it routine. As soon as reasonably possible, try to “institutionalize” the new technology and “show employees that you are transitioning from the old way of working to the new one,” says Bonnet.

+ Highlight quick wins. Once employees begin to use the technology more and more, draw attention to the positive impact it’s having on your organization. “Publicizing quick wins helps build a case for change” and encourages further adoption, says Mankins. Emphasize individual gains, too. “Say, ‘Ted uses this technology and he’s been able to retire his quota in 10 months rather than a year,’” says Mankins.

+ Make it fun. “Rewarding the behavior you want to see is much more effective than penalizing the behavior you don’t want to see,” says Mankins. Bonnet suggests experimenting with gamification to “make it fun and create a bit of buzz around the technology and motivate and engage people.” Employees might accumulate points, gain financial incentives, or achieve new levels of “status.”

+ Consider penalties. If you’re still having a hard time getting your team on board, consider instituting penalties for nonuse. “It depends on how damaging it is to the organization to have resistors,” says Bonnet. “At a certain point, [lack of adoption] becomes an issue of productivity and the bottom line.”

(Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist in Boston.)

 © 2015 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate