Today’s interconnected, global economy requires organizations across all industries to adapt to constantly shifting market conditions, customer demands, technologies, and competitive landscapes. Talent acquisition teams are at the center of this transformation as they seek to support organizations in recruiting and developing talent for the future of work.
Change has become a constant in this new reality. But change can also be difficult, especially when people and organizations have been doing things the same way for quite some time.
A perfect example? Talent teams used to working solely with an ATS may find it difficult to break the habit of sourcing talent only after running out of applicants — despite launching a new CRM that can solve this problem. Team members who perfected a spreadsheet system for tracking candidate updates may worry that their process will be hindered if they need to learn how to track activities in a software system instead.
Fortunately, it’s possible to shift reluctance into anticipation. The key is properly managing your rollout and adoption by:
Preparing people for what lies ahead
Equipping them with the training, tools, and resources needed to succeed
Supporting them at all phases of the change process
Where to Start
While it would make things easier if there were a single formula to follow, the truth is there are many change models out there, including: the AKDAR model, the 7-S model, and Kotter’s 8 Step model. In fact, your organization may already follow one or more of these models as an organizational standard.
Regardless of whether you have a formal change process or not, there are a few foundational elements to any successful change effort. Let’s take a look at a few best practices to help guide your efforts.
Seeing is Believing
A common mistake leaders make when rolling out new HR tech solutions is assuming their teams will see the value and need as clearly as they do. It’s easy to forget the power that software demos, Q&As, and internal discussions about the solution had in shaping a compelling reason for the change — and how long it took to become comfortable with that vision.
Selling people on the vision for change is a critical first step for any organization. But you must go beyond telling people how the software will bring positive change. Instead, help them see what the future can look like and how they, specifically, will benefit from the solution. Looking for ideas? Try one of these:
Share your buying reason during a meeting, and make it personal. Speak from the heart about why you chose the solution, give concrete examples of everyday problems the product will solve, or share an example of your favorite feature.
Provide high-level overview videos, a fun “hype” video, and other marketing materials from the vendor during a team meeting or via email.
Showcase testimonials and case studies from current customers to help your team see proven value, not just promised value.
It Takes a Village
Launching any new HR tech solution not only takes time, it also takes a team of engaged champions to help with decision making, readiness activities, and adoption.
Keep in mind, though, that successful change doesn’t happen from the top down. It happens in the trenches, so it’s important your champions include not just formal leaders, but recruiters, sourcers, or talent marketers empowered to help leadership lead the charge.
With a champion team in place, you can meet regularly to collaborate, discuss progress, and document and assign upcoming tasks. A few initial items worth focusing on:
Conduct a stakeholder analysis to assess who will be affected by the rollout, either directly or indirectly, and what support they will need to be successful.
Build a communication plan to prevent information silos, misunderstanding, or anxiety about the unknown.
Identify resources to support the rollout, such as job aids, training materials, or updates to internal process documents.
Closing the Engagement Gap
Direct engagement is the key to building a shared commitment to your vision for the future. Though communication is important to any launch strategy, it isn’t the same as engagement.
A common mistake organizations make when rolling out new HR tech solutions is failing to directly engage end users and others who will be affected by the change early on. But when your first introduction is days before launch, it can feel overwhelming rather than energizing.
This doesn’t mean every user needs to be involved in every decision, but leaders should look for ways to actively involve their team in the change process and solicit feedback. Here are a few best practices to consider:
Lean into resistance, which can provide useful takeaways. Maybe you’ve missed a critical need, or haven’t communicated the vision as effectively as you thought. In either case, it’s important to address concerns and get ahead of objections.
Host “lunch and learns” to showcase the work the project team is doing, highlight exciting features, preview the change, and provide space for discussion.
Create open channels for gathering input and feedback to keep communication flowing in both directions, not just top-down. Consider sending checkpoint surveys, communicating an open door policy with leaders, or hosting Q&A discussions.
Knowledge is Power
Change is more likely to take root quickly and stick when people are given opportunities to build knowledge over time and reinforce their learning through meaningful work and reflection.
The key here is meaningful work. Best practices in adult learning remind us that people want new knowledge to be immediately applicable, which is why one-size-fits-all training isn’t advisable for software launches. Instead, determine which software features bring value to which users, and focus their training and activities in those areas. This persona-based approach will drive intrinsic value faster and lead to stronger adoption in the end.
Once you know who needs to focus on which topics first, create a structured learning plan that blends traditional training with reinforcement and reflection:
Have learners complete eLearning training and/or attend an in-person training session on a focused topic or theme.
Design practice activities that move work forward, such as importing sourced leads, building lists to use in future campaigns, or designing email templates.
Encourage reflection by using team meetings, “lunch and learns”, or other collaborative sessions to share wins and challenges, and offer dedicated time for support.
Use job aids or company-specific process documentation to support learning efforts.
Build on prior knowledge with additional eLearnings, individual practice, or group activities.
We Win Together
At Phenom, we’ve found that the first 90 days are the most critical to building new habits and ways of working to drive adoption of new software. It’s essential to have a plan for sustaining momentum after launch — and part of that plan includes sharing successes, both big and small.
Set goals at key milestones (the first week, 30, 60 and 90 days), and then measure progress at each point. Reflect on where you’ve succeeded and share those wins with your team. Examine where you missed your target and use the insights to improve internal support or resources, or adapt processes or configurations.
Most importantly, make sure progress is shared across teams, not just at the leadership level. Change happens when each person chooses to engage, so keep them informed and celebrate their wins with these recommendations:
Show your wins with screenshots of metrics from your first CRM-originated email campaign, a new landing page designed in the CMS, or the number of passive leads captured by Phenom in the first week.
Create healthy competition to drive engagement by rewarding the first user to become certified, or the first to have a partial applicant convert after being nudged by a recruiter.
Set up an internal dashboard to showcase metrics such as increases in job applies or visits to your career site, or the number of applications from campaigns run that month.
No one buys software for it to go unused. And organizations don’t evolve if their people don’t change. But change is more of a marathon than a sprint. Just because it’s a longer race, doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. Engaging the right people, building commitment across all levels of the organization, and planning ahead for ongoing support and reinforcement can keep you moving forward — ultimately leading to the transformation you seek.