Change Events: Why We Need To Rethink Technology

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J. Paul Getty said, “In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy.” At the intersection of business and technology, evolution happens in the blink of an eye. These days, it’s not enough to simply pivot when meeting a major change event — you need to be able to adapt quickly and with confidence. Change events ranging from mergers and acquisitions, to employee turnover and corporate relocation can have a major impact on your business’ ability to remain competitive.

One of the best and worst things about the rate at which technology is evolving is our own accessibility to “best-of-breed” solutions. Companies will often deploy these technologies before, during or after a change event in hopes that the solution will help their employees through the transition. These efforts largely fail because companies do not acknowledge enough how the technology being used needs to address the most important factor in change events: people and their behaviors. As technology advances, the processes we use to leverage them needs to evolve at the same clip. The more a company-wide technological solution is aligned with employee behaviors, both inside work and outside of it, the more likely it will be adopted with success. In turn, this saves not only huge administrative/overhead costs, but reduces turnover and productivity loss while also potentially improving training and onboarding processes.

It’s common knowledge that the modern workplace has changed: the pace and ways we achieve our work is incredibly different than how it was 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Technologies like Slack, Basecamp, Salesforce, and more allow departments to operate at an increased velocity. With the advancement of SaaS technology into an equivalently secure environment as on-premise, we are witnessing an abundance of employee-led adoption of new technologies as opposed to IT led.  . But this has its limitations as what may be good for a marketing or engineering department, has no place in HR or Finance, particularly when a change event does occur. For example,  for post-acquisition integration, your marketing department could be working on an incredibly impactful initiative and tracking activities in Basecamp — but unless there’s widespread adoption of Basecamp, then there’s little to no company-wide transparency into either the initiative’s importance to the company, or its progress. Imagine the same for any department: sales, finance, customer service, etc. The differentiator today will the company that enables inter- and intra-departmental sharing of know-how.

Knowledge sharing technology helps empower employees and increase overall satisfaction, particularly during change events. Companies need to compete for the best talent in order to survive — this means reducing employee turnover and developing an environment that supports employees is crucial to a company’s success. This can be accomplished in the tools we choose to deploy, if we think critically about the way our people communicate and work. For example, in an M&A situation, there will be employee onboarding and potential turnover. What tools are you using to capture critical information from former employees, to ensure a smoother transition process for the people just joining your company? Knowledge leak is a huge issue for most companies — for all the intranets, social boards, email exchanges, FAQs pages and more, most companies fail to provide their people with relevant, updated information that simply answers the question: “How do I do this?”

Whether following a change event or even before, employees need to be supported internally with better processes than a ticketing system. Many large companies offer only that, or a 1-800 number for their employees to call when confronted with a problem. These old processes just don’t work today, and the valuable information that answers “How do I do this?” is rarely captured effectively. Companies need to address the human/employee element better, to reduce the burnoff and employee dissatisfaction that can result in massive overhead from having to recruit, train and hire new talent.

Developing a culture of knowledge sharing changes the way we typically think of problems, our people, and the technology we use. Change events create uncertainty — this is a human element. The technology solutions we use should help our employees by thinking of the human element/their behaviors. In short, the technology we use needs to map to the behavior of our employees — and not the other way around.

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Chelsea Levengood

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