How to deal with my team’s systems resistance

You saw the light!  

Whether you are tired of repeating the same tasks over and over again and want to automate the process or you just got tired of asking where your team was on their projects – you decided to get yourself a systems tool. You did the research, you weighed the pros and cons, you implemented it, you deployed it to the team, you are so excited about all the headache this is going to save you and now…

THE UGLY RESISTANCE.

Juliana “I have a new systems tool, but my team doesn’t want to use it? Now what?!?!”

I get this question from business owners and their team leads all the time.

Team members ranging from your freelancers to your businesses’ #2 create resistance and it typically looks like one form or another of …

  • Well, I don’t want to (the bratty resistance)
  • Why do I have to (the rebellious resistance)
  • Not part of my job (the diva resistance)
  • It’s boring/meh (the ennui resistance)
  • I didn’t have to do this before (the status quo resistance)
  • I didn’t do this in other places (the comparison resistance – mostly contractor’s response)

The resistance is a lot of white noise that usually stems from  2 factors:

  1. Robots are going to take over the world … (not really – kinda) but they see this “ systems tool” as a threat to their job. This tool creates efficiency and transparency that will in effect make them much easily replaceable. The dirty truth is that it does – it makes a lot of the mindless repetitive work that your staff is doing faster so they need to step up their game and can’t hide behind you not seeing the inefficiencies running the clock and costing you money.
  2. They see this as more unnecessary work you just piled on top of them. Let’s face it, they don’t need to see the big picture so there is absolutely no incentive to track or measure the work they are already doing when their priority is just getting that work done.

How do we address the issue?

  • Make it a part of their job – whether you are on boarding a new person or retraining an old person this is the new norm. You set the expectation that this is now a job requirement – not a suggestion.
  • Everything is awesome! You paint the picture that this tool is going to save them time and allow them to work on the higher level tasks that they actually enjoy and will reduce a lot of the grunt work of the job that they don’t. Every single time a client’s A-player has had huge resistance to adopting a system and they finally do the response “epiphany” that they share with my clients’ is “why didn’t we do this earlier”.  

Every. Single. Time.  

Poor performing players, on the other hand, well, you just got visibility into who is performing and not. [link to hiring] This is a good time to update those job descriptions.

Sidebar – if it’s a CRM tool that you are deploying you can state that CRMs make increase sales by 29% more when you use a CRM – hence cha ching! more mula for everyone!

  • Help them help you. Using a new tool is a habit. Set up daily or weekly automated reminders so you can prompt people to input, check off, or move things around in your shiny new systems tool. Let them know they are going to have to invest some time upfront to get the results. Those first two weeks of working out are brutal, but after you develop the routine and start to see results, the thought of not working out is not even a question.
  • Show them how to use the systems tool how you want it used. Everyone adopts tools with their own process – create a simple screencast showing them how to go about using the tool and reduce hand holding and answering the same questions. For more elaborate tools, I’ll talk about rollouts.
  • Stress review time and completion. When do projects, deals, milestones need you or a manager for review and when can they actually be marked as complete. Set this up ahead of time to avoid bottlenecking or an inaccurate sense of reality.

Bonus Level – measure – keep a scorecard to track performance.

Pitfalls:

So let’s say they are now (happily or not) onboard with using this new tool. Cool, right? Well, let’s still look out for some systems mayhem.

You can get the eager – beaver – systems – achiever 😃  who uses the systems at nausea and you are pinged a 100x a day with every tiny detail of work being produced.

The fix – Help them prioritize and make sure you set up times with them to check in. For example – you can let them know you are reviewing work at 6am or 4:30pm so they know that you are not going to take a look at every ping throughout the day and when to get all of their questions or work product in by for your review.

Cloak and dagger – things are being moved along but there is almost no communication and you are left with an icky feeling of not sure what is getting done when.

The fix –  Help them prioritize and have them send you an end of day/ week summary of what is getting created and complete. Check your system for activity reporting.

If you are running into any other pitfalls I would love to know – share them with me.

Implement for Results

  • Establish the new norm and stress the importance of this system as part of their job
  • Let them know this is going to help them make their jobs and lives easier
  • Automate reminders to help them build habits
  • Show them how to use it
  • Set up criteria for review times and completion of work
  • Measure
  • Manage pitfalls by helping team prioritize and communicate effectively