One of the challenges in startup growth while being a relatively new player on the scene is becoming the go-to product for entire teams. We battle not only marketing and onboarding challenges, but the need to overcome myriad other products that provide sometimes overlapping solutions.
More than once in conversations with Craft users do we discover that our immense popularity with product managers simply doesn’t spill over to the R&D team, whose members are comfortable with their own platforms and can’t always be bothered to adopt a new tool. Integrations like Pivotal Tracker <> Craft help with that, but it’s not a full, or full-proof solution.
This post is dedicated to Craft evangelists who really want to bring their team/s onboard to Craft and infect colleagues with your enthusiasm for Craft. We hope this offers some new perspective and provides a breakthrough.
Dealing with the underlying cause: resistance to change
A universal truth that is becoming more evident every day: today’s product teams face the problem of hyper-communication and an abundance of tools and channels that can sometimes become, quite literally, counter-productive.
However, within this set of challenges we’ll often find lurking a more primordial obstacle: resistance to change. Specifically, the change of habits and comfort zones. True – technological companies tend to attract workers who are more naturally inclined toward trying out new technologies and can take pride in employing a higher than average percentage of early adapters. And yet, in many cases the default human disposition to stay static – simply prevails.
The method of managing employees’ resistance to change in the workplace is a fascinating one. It is rooted in combining very smart organizational development methods with an understanding of deep psychological patterns.
In an article in Harvard Business Review from 1996 aptly named Why Do Employees Resist Change, professor of Governance and Strategy Paul Strebel presents two riveting case studies of companies (one of which is Phillips Electronics) that needed to bring about drastic organizational changes in order to survive. In both cases, employee resistance stemmed from under-engagement in processes around them and a lack of encouragement to go beyond their immediate activities.
In the case of Philips, mythological then-CEO Jan Timmer rallied the professional leadership in what became known as Operation Centurion. By encouraging senior staff to become more involved in workflow design and policy design, the company’s management became the driving force that navigated Philips from a near crash and saved the company. Lower level employees were also pushed to become agents of their own professional development, and company was re-written.
Jan Timmer, former Philips CEO inventor of the Centurion approach. Image: Marialust website
Tools, Workspaces and Control: Becoming an Agent of Change
The Philips case highlights an important aspect of the employee-workplace dynamics: when deprived of a sense of control over their work process, team members can easily slip into indifference and develop resistance to change. This has been beautifully demonstrated by experimenting in control over work space:
Or, in other words – team members who are more involved, more in control of their day-to-day work conditions are far more likely to be proactive, engaged, positive and contributing members who perform better and take pride in their place of work.
This goes for the selection of work tools, as well. By encouraging users to be agents of their own process, motivation is increased to use those tools in the most productive manner.
This goes double for the adoption process, which may seem like a reactive flow, but in fact demande 110% of the team’s cooperation. The more involved team members are in implementation and adoption of new worktools, the more ownership they’ll gain toward the process.
Getting the team involved
While we can’t always make it possible for each team member to choose their own work tools -and in fact, that could lead to boundless chaos and therefore is not recommended- we can involve them in the adoption process early on and encourage gaining as much agency as possible over the process.
One of the best tips I’ve heard on team onboarding is rooted in the notion that “enthusiasm is contagious”. If an idea is introduced with earnest excitement, that emotion can be a pitch in its own right. This isn’t something you can fake, so try to choose tools you can only be seriously, authentically enthusiastic about.
I really like how @CreateWithCraft helps us define roadmaps and work on our product. Don’t really know why you guys don’t use it yet.
— Irakli Agladze (@iraqlee) May 12, 2017
Cater to needs
Evangelizing also means showcasing the tool’s capabilities. This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate how this new tool can address team members’ pains. You can do that by matching features with needs and showing how different features may solve existing workflow issues and reduce friction or save time and energy.
Take complaints seriously
Because they are grounded in real distress, and because listening is the first step to solving them. Perhaps the new tool offers an answer to the problem, and perhaps it doesn’t but this is an opportunity for team members to submit a feature request, a bug complaint or a question to the provider. That may not dissolve resistance entirely, but it’s a step in the direction of getting to know the new tool and seeing a tool instead of an obstacle.
Depending on how closely your team is used to working together, parts of the adoption process can be delegated to specific team members. Making someone the chief authority on a certain segment of the tool may be an incentive to learn it more thoroughly.
By telling team members to take some time off work and invest in proper training on a new tool, you are making it a priority and treating it with gravely. The message this sends is – if we’re investing in it, that means we’re taking it seriously and intend to commit to this new work tool.
Keeping it productive
In an ecosphere where we’re surrounded by numerous tools and platforms, finding The One (or even The Ten or The Fifteen) is a job all on its own. We need to work with our teams, and not at them, to make manage changes and adoptions as smoothly as possible. Take a cue from your team, have a listen, and work with them to learn how they would best like to go about assimilating new work tools into their work routine.