As the world begins to shift to a new normal, support team leaders are facing new challenges, from increasingly demanding customers, the call to be more mindful of budgets, and the need to deliver better customer experiences. To tackle these challenges, many of these leaders are adding new tools, platforms, and apps to their tech stacks.
We recently spoke with Dr. Gautham Pallapa, award-winning author of Lead with Empathy, to discuss how all types of business leaders can successfully introduce new technology in their organizations. (We highly recommend watching the reply of our conversation!)
5 ways to introduce new tech to your team
Follow these thoughtful guidelines for introducing new technology to your team.
First and foremost: be an empathetic leader. By placing empathy at the heart of any leadership strategy, but also when implementing changes to tech stacks, leaders can provide employees with the foundational need known as “psychological safety.”
Psychological safety is created by mutual trust and respect through actions like team bonding, collaboration, transparency, and candid communication. By allowing communication and collaboration among employees, from top to bottom, leaders can make sure all types of teammates feel safe to speak up, to be themselves.
Then, when they communicate the context behind decisions (including adding or removing parts of a tech stack), employees feel more comfortable with taking risks and adapting to changes. This ultimately leads to a better, healthier culture of work, the kind of environment that fosters flexibility and collaboration.
To empower employees means to improve the flow of value for employees and to understand each employee’s appetite and threshold for change.
By improving the flow of value for employees, leaders are shifting the focus of value to be product or service-centric. This means that leaders are able to provide opportunities to show how the additions or changes add value to not just customers, but also employees. Improving the flow of value for employees also includes reducing meeting overload, eliminating unnecessary meeting time and allowing them to get back to what they find valuable within the company.
Empowering employees through improving the flow of value also allows leaders to understand the appetite each employee has for change. Dr. Pallapa breaks down an employee’s appetite for change in three zones:
The comfort zone
This is where employees feel most comfortable and start prior to integrating new additions to tech stacks. At this level, employees may be met with annoyances or nuisances in their current work, but overall the motivation is low to fix anything broken. Businesses are most likely to experience inertia because the appetite for change is low.
The discomfort zone
When introducing anything new – including technology like apps, systems, and the like – employees start being pushed into the discomfort zone. This is the sweet spot of the appetite for change and where maximum learning, growth and transformation happens within a business’s workforce. When introducing additions or changes to employees, this is where leaders should guide and empower them to be.
The panic zone
This is the zone with the highest anxiety for employees. In this zone, employees can start feeling insecure, ultimately questioning their purpose and value to the company. In this zone, businesses can expect to feel increased friction and unhappiness from employees. This can lead to less productivity and ultimately increased resistance to changes being made. Businesses can make sure not to push employees into this zone by gradually introducing changes, taking the time to help employees feel valued and addressing the purpose of the changes through engagement.
By engaging with employees, leadership is able to improve communication about changes and provide transparency to their workforce. Dr. Pallapa suggests starting small with engagement. When introducing new technology to employees, leaders should start with small forms of engagement such as open communication. This allows employees to understand and receive answers to the following questions:
- Why are we introducing a new change?
- How will this help the business and our customers?
- How will this help employees’ professional responsibilities and development?
It is important when leaders engage that they, themselves, are excited and passionate about upcoming changes. Employees look to leaders to gauge how to accept changes. If a leader is excited, more often than not employees will be more open to new ideas, tools and systems.
Once the new technology has been introduced, business leaders must entrust their employees to carry out the changes and achieve desired results. Businesses can do this by collaborating with employees to understand who to go to when questions arise and the steps to take for a successful implementation. With a clear understanding and guide to changes, leaders can be confident in their employees. This ultimately prevents leaders from second guessing their workforce, and in turn, their workforce second guessing the upcoming changes.
There’s no doubt that bumps will arise in the road of implementation, and when that happens, leaders must maintain strong trust with their employees through a method called lean experimentation. Dr. Pallaga explains that lead experimentation celebrates failures and trials as much as successes and wins. With lead experimentation, employees are less likely to feel insecure and second guess any changes.
Finally, when introducing new tech stack additions, it is imperative that leaders equip their employees. Equip does not just mean providing new products, systems, or direction of procedures to employees. To equip is to provide much more. Equip employees with tools that encourage continuous collaboration, learning and improvement.
Leaders can also equip employees with additional automation tools that help them adjust to changes. With automation tools, systems, and platforms, like Solvvy, employees reap benefits by spending less time on mundane tasks and more time on high-value responsibilities.
Whether you’re adding to your team’s tech stack, implementing a new process, or onboarding an entirely new system, leaders who show the way with empathy, empowerment, engagement, entrustment, and equipment will find themselves working with an open and excited team. And when employees are excited, customers will reap the benefits of stronger, better experiences.