How Strong Leaders Deal With Pushback on Technology Initiatives Learn how tech leaders can deal with pushback on diverse technological initiatives.

By Steve Taplin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Change in all aspects of life is as inevitable as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west — nothing stays the same. Although technology uptake has increased over the last few years, management and tech companies still have their work cut out for them. Championing changes is no walk in the park, and the same goes for leadership. So, here are a few ways tech leaders can deal with pushback on diverse technological initiatives, as well as a few signs to help leaders identify pushback on these initiatives:

1. Create strong foundational data

When making changes, most company executives are looking for foundational data. This kind of data shows what tech is, what it does, how it does it, and most importantly, what the favorable results are. Foundational data should be well formatted and easy to interpret.

Related: Change Is Good. Now, How to Get Employees to Buy In

2. Lean on your soft skills

IT leaders may rely on something other than their soft skills to get the job done, but these skills are vital in establishing productive discourse. A conversation ensures all parties feel heard and decisions are not one-sided. Effective communication and attentive listening can make technology initiatives succeed.

3. Cut out the long speeches; for the most part

The thing about speeches is that they could be more interactive. This one-way flow of information can backfire as the audience may feel alienated from a process they are expected to partake in. The best way to combat this is by making the entire process as interactive as possible. Let every stakeholder interact with the new technology at their own pace. You will likely get unanimous cooperation from multiple echelons if each can realize the benefits firsthand.

4. Impromptu problem-solving

Patience and fortitude are not virtues associated with most mega-companies and industries. What people want are systems that work with minimal effort and accurate results. Any tech initiatives that have a hard time taking off are less likely to get adapted into regular use. The pushback will likely be at its worst when something fails during implementation, so fast response time is crucial to implementing tech initiatives.

5. Actively campaign against false assumptions

Your staff may face unfounded rumors and assumptions about tech changes that can destabilize the initiative. Some obvious fears your employees may face include:

  • Job redundancy

  • Reduced income

  • Reduced control

  • The negative impact on the personal status

  • New unbeatable challenges

During such times, it is essential to discredit each individual's worries using proven facts and recorded data. Ensure employees don't think the employer's new tech initiative is directly against their collective well-being.

It's not always about the money, so proving to stakeholders that the technology initiative can produce more profits is only sometimes the right move. Some might consider an attempt to buy in proof that the product will face opposition from employees at different levels.

Related: How to Become a Successful Change Leader

Identifying pushback against technology initiatives

One of the most damning mistakes people in a crisis make is not realizing they are in one. The fastest way to break up technological dissent in any setting is by realizing it is happening. Here are a few ways you can identify pushback in any backdrop:

Denial:

Most people's first reaction to sudden and unexpected change is denial. Employees and stakeholders may declare new technology redundant and argue for the logic that "if it's not broken, don't fix it." It is up to the tech companies and top company management to prove to the employees that the new system is beneficial in multiple aspects.

One way to combat denial is to clearly illustrate the benefits of tech initiatives by displaying them in a common language for everyone to comprehend. Feedback channels are critical during this stage because they give you an action plan for implementation. For example, creating company groups online allows employees to ask questions and receive information in real time.

Disengagement:

Denial and disengagement often go hand in hand. In this phase, employees will quickly adopt a nonchalant approach toward any changes in the company. This behavior is more prevalent when technology initiatives are shoved down everyone's throat. This approach can make getting anything done in the workplace challenging and tedious. The perfect way to tackle disengagement is by incentivizing goals like giving bonuses, rewards and allowances for employees that excel at adopting new technology.

Derailment:

This is the "what, you think we don't have other/real problems?" approach usually adopted by people in an organization who feel disadvantaged by the new changes. These groups often exaggerate the importance of more straightforward tasks to invalidate changes. The best way to combat this symptom of technological decent is by ensuring that no duties will be neglected through proper scheduling and resource allocation. One way to schedule effectively is by making the schedule visible and easy to interpret, like by placing it on a notice board or sending it to individual employees' work emails.

Related: How to Manage Resistance to Change Within an Agile Organization

A lack of motivation:

You may notice that employees are less willing to go about their tasks, especially if they use new technology. This is often the case if the tech is not fully functional or needs to be equipped to handle the current capacity smoothly. Employees may also act unmotivated if the new technology brings extra work and the company is unwilling to compensate.

One such trend is the quiet quitting trend, which is motivated by a similar trend in numerous industries. Demotivation may seem harmless at first but may end up hitting the company with a reality many companies have realized too late. Having employees willing to go the extra mile gives a company a competitive edge, and the opposite could lead to a company's rapid decline. The best way to deal with demotivated staff members is to incentivize tasks. Creating a competitive workplace culture can also help if the winner gets a coveted prize.

Do not expect all employees to join the bandwagon with a smile. The most important thing when implementing technology initiatives is to keep communication channels open. The flow of information vertically and horizontally across different organizational levels can create a better working environment and smoother tech integration. Implementing technology initiatives can avoid opposition, especially if you build trust and ensure open feedback channels.

Wavy Line
Steve Taplin

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO of Sonatafy Technology

Steve Taplin is the CEO of Sonatafy Technology (www.sonatafy.com), a premier nearshore software-development-services firm that provides its clients with expertise in cloud solutions, web and mobile applications, ecommerce, big data, DevOps practices, QA, IoT and machine learning.

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