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Convincing people to use new and even not-so-new online tools remains tough for me with some offices. What strategies have you used, or what circumstances do you believe need to be in place, to convince someone, or several employees, to join or post to an online discussion group, to use RSS to subscribe to updates on a web site or blog, to fill out a profile on LinkedIn, to share documents via an Intranet, or to be even REALLY daring and edit Wikipedia?
I'm not looking for generalities ("Be sure to talk in non-tech language" or "Remember to stay customer-focused", etc.). I'm looking for concrete examples of carrots and sticks ("We had five mandatory trainings and then people had their tech use evaluated in their annual performance reviews").
In return, I'll give you four virtual tons of cyber karma. Actually, I may write an article. But first, I'd really like to get a lively discussion going.
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
The for-profit company I work for has the same situation as most organizations - true fans of social media and others who wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole.
If you want it to be accepted and used, I don't know anything more effective than to explain how important it is and initially reward it in some fun kind of way (e.g. each post//RSS feed/Linked in recruit, etc. earns a raffle ticket for a Starbucks gift card/basket worth $100 at the end of 2 weeks) and then maybe ask for an email at the end of each week updating you on social media progress for the week.
Making it part of performance criteria is probably the best "stick" approach.
But I think I would caution you to perhaps consider that it takes a unique person to really embrace and excel at these things. Maybe take a look at who would be really good with it and allow that person or those people to really run with it. Let the others do things they're better at. I, for one, can't stand Facebook. Every "become my friend" message I receive annoys me - I just don't have the time or desire to keep up with it
So, I started our nonprofit's facebook site but someone else on the board who likes to spend time online has really taken it from there.
Just food for thought.
Thanks and good luck!
FWIW, I seldom see a reason to employ carrot/stick strategies.
I see my role as one of solving problems and improving workplace effectiveness, never of pushing technology. And I try to spend enough time at client locations to find out what the users want and need, as well as what management wants.
I don't use carrots (in the sense of artificial rewards) because they shouldn't be needed. If I've properly studied the situation and confirmed the feasibility and cost/benefit of my proposed solution, it should sell itself. And if it doesn't, I need to figure out what I've overlooked.
I don't use sticks either. The concept assumes that management is knowingly going to allow employees to fail, or continue to use methods that the organization wishes to abandon, and then penalize them. I do two things here. First, I make sure that sufficient training and support are provided so that success is assured. Second, I quickly remove (or make much less convenient) the option of using the old, superseded methods.
This is the classic "Content is King" story.
People will use the tools that allow they to be successful. If the current tool is going to the administrative assistant for every last item, they will keep using that tool as long as it suits their needs. If you change the relationship so that the employees needs are met with other tools, they will migrate to those tools as soon as their OLD crutches are removed.
So, in cases where the administrative assistant previously responded to a request with "Let me get that for you", the new response needs to be "This is where you would go to get that".
If the administrative assistant remains an enabler by getting everything that is asked for, it is going to seriously hinder the rate of adaptation.
You don't need a carrot. You need a reinvention of culture.
Tim ClaremontSystems AdministratorRochester, NY
This is a great discussion. When do we get to hear your answers, Jayne?
I agree with what Lisa said above - there are some people who love this stuff, and others who could care less about it. I don't think there's a way to make people in the latter group use social media in a way that goes beyond a superficial checklist.
The trick, then, is to identify the people who do get it, and empower them to represent and advocate for the org in a meaningful way.
The second problem - and this is tied to Tim's comment - is that people sometimes get the cart before the horse. What's the purpose of using new media in the org? If we dedicate five hours a week to a social media strategy over the next six months, what metrics will we use to measure that strategy's impact? Donations? New members? New evangelists for the org?
It's okay to fail, but it's implicit that experiments need to be framed in such a way that failure is possible. This is the kind of discussion I think should be taking place as an organization starts to use social media, and the people to start that discussion with are the ones who already spend time in that space.
Staff Writer, TechSoup
It's funny that so many people avoid talking about concrete things that have worked at their organizations regarding the introduction of technology. I know all the concepts for making users feel supported in using new technologies, but what lacks is real examples of that in practice.
For those of us who have had to convince staff to use new technologies, even just to try it once, we know that all the concepts in the world won't work unless you have real, concrete ways of putting them in practice. For those of us of a certain age, we also know that, sometimes, with some employees, there's no way to get some staff to make the jump with a carrot or a stick.
Someone asked for my own examples. Here goes:
(1) I was a part of a huge, mutli-office international organization that adopted a new software program that would take over all human resources and budget database functions. Unfortunately, those who would actually use the software weren't involved in the choice, so they felt very much that something was being imposed on them that they didn't ask for. Bad start, definitely. The organization engaged in several activities to both educate staff on why the software tool was a good thing and how to use the software, such as:
-- training as a group, watching a slide show presentation or interacting with a live trainer,
-- training from each individual's desk top watching a slide show presentation or with a trainer sitting right there with the person,
-- a user guide distributed to all staff,
-- onsite user group meetings,
-- a phone hotline to get immediate questions answered
-- discussions in department and organizational-wide staff meetings
and on and on. About 60% of the staff became both comfortable with the software and convinced it was worth using. But 40% didn't. What finally got them to use it was a mandate -- a stick. A date was given when reports would no longer be accepted in any format except such that was generated from the database itself. The mandate got the remaining 40% on board within probably two weeks.
(2) I worked at an organization with a staff member who wanted to keep faxing meeting invitations to a particular group, despite that group saying they were fine with receiving it via this new fangled thing called "email." Everyone at the organizaton was using email except this employee, who refused, despite how many times she was encouraged by her fellow staff members. Finally, she was told by her boss (not me) that she had to use email instead of the fax for mass invitations, no exceptions. And she did.
Yes, providing lots of explicit examples of why an online tool is great, and a tremendous amount of support to use the new tool, works with many staff members, and maybe most staff members -- but not everyone. There are those people who will not use that tool without a carrot or a stick.
So, let me try some specific cases instead and see if I can get some concrete examples of action, not just "create a supportive environment."
(a) You have a manager who works with student nurses going through a year-long program. All of these students have expressed an interest in having an online community where they can talk about their experiences and get updates regarding the program from the manager. The manager knows that the students want this and why, has been shown several examples of what such could look like, etc. But the manager always has an excuse for not starting the group. Even when this manager is told that the students themselves would be happy in setting up and managing the group themselves, despite several comments from the students themselves as well as fellow staff members, she continues to drag her feet, and the group still isn't started. So, more trainings? More pep talks? More meetings? Or is it time for a supervisor to step in and say, "The group needs to be started by Oct. 1. I'll need a progress report each week to let me know how it's going."?
(b) Your nonprofit organization needs to reach teens as clients, volunteers and perhaps even donors. But your veteran marketing manager refuses to use FaceBook, YouTube, or any other online social networking tool, despite data that shows these tools are extremely popular with teens in your city. He doesn't just come out and say, "I refuse to use it," but, rather, just doesn't use it. How do you "convince" this person to use these online tools?
(c) Through staff retreats, it is decided by consensus that all employees should have an online profile on LinedIn because the office feels its fundamental to the organization's success and credibility for at least some of the professional credentials of staff be made public. Trainings are held, memos are sent, reminders are sent, etc. 20% of employees haven't done it, and show no signs of doing so. More trainings?
I could come up with tons more, but I think that's enough to get things started
I think Elliott hit it on the head with the Horse/Cart analogy. If technology (ANY technology) is being used for the sake of being able to say you use technology, one the already tech-savvy will have any desire to use it. It must be presented as a way to increase productivity or otherwise impact the results of the person or, preferably, the organization as a whole.
By way of example, let's look at Email. Back when email was still cutting edge, how many of us (in the 30-45 age group at least) weren't bragging about the number of email accounts we had. Not necessarily because it made us any more productive (because, quite frankly, I didn't know too many other people who actually had an address that I could send anything to) but because it was the latest thing. Now, the tables have turned. Email is so ubiquitous that those who don't have an email address are behind the curve in most instances. Why? Because, due to email, I can now send a message to someone when I am online and they can respond when they are at their computer...whether that's immediately or 24+ hours later...whether they live next door or around the world. So, unless your message is something that is time-critical in the next 60 minutes or fewer, email can usually make the work easier.
When email started, many got it for the sake of having email. Now, it is a necessity because of the increase in productivity that it provides to both the individual and the organization as a whole. That performance improvement should provide the carrot.
BTW, the change in culture thing is important too. In my current position as a technology trainer, I make it a point that, if a process is one that will have to be repeated, I stand behind the user and "teach them to fish" rather than sitting in their chair and "giving them a fish."
Great article on adoption tips: http://www.crmexcellence.nl/crm%20-%20artikelen/getting%20executives%20crm%20buy%20in.pdf
I refer to it often and many of the tips are mentioned in this carrot and stick thread, although no case studies. Thanks to everyone for the very concrete and useful info here!
Kate Dillon | Data & IT Specialist | www.savesfbay.org
My previous comments were very much a picture of reality at my former workplace.
The culture was such that when ANYONE needed anything, they went to the administrative assistant. That was just the way things were always done. The admin assistants were ENABLING this behavior by accommodating every request. The "society" would simply cease to function if the admin took a day off.
As a technical guy, my response was to implement software by the name of DocuShare. As the name implies, it is a repository for documents. It is a web based tool that allows people to retrieve information themselves rather than relying on a core group of people to get whatever is it that they need. Sounded like a perfect solution. Everyone loved the concept. It was rolled out with much fanfare... and then if flopped. Nobody latched on to it. Nobody adopted it. Nobody changed their work process to accommodate it.
The fundamental problem was that the administrative assistants were STILL meeting every need and whim that anyone approached them with. They were sabotaging the implementation by ALLOWING people to function without it.
The solution? The administrative assistants were trained to reply to requests with instructions on how the requestor could find things for themselves. It was the classic "Teach a man to fish" situation. They were then helping people to help themselves. This resulted in a paradigm shift in thought process across the organization, not to mention a lessened load on the administrative assistants.
In summary, the underlying problem is seldom a technical one. It is most often a cultural problem that must be addressed before any technical solution will bear fruit. If you take this knowledge under advisement during your planning, most of your technical projects will progress much more smoothly.
I didn't provide specifics because they didn't match the "carrot and stick" criteria, but I'll give an example from one of the places I worked before I went independent:
It was a financial institution and each user had about 5 custom-written applications along with their usual office suites. Every now and then, one of the apps or the hardware would get upgraded. IT would study the needs, estimate costs, build a model, get feedback from a few of the more enthusiastic users, tweak the design and then plan the roll-out.
Each department in turn would be sent to the company's training building for a full day's training and practice on the new system. While the employees were being trained, the network overlords (including me) would descend on the empty offices, delete the old systems and install the new ones.
When the employees returned to their desks the next morning, they had no choice but to use the new system. The crying and screaming usually subsided within a few hours. It seems brutal but it was actually a very economical and effective approach.
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