Implementing a New Business Mentoring Program
We can all relate to the feeling of not having enough hours in the day to do the work we need to get done. Or those times in our lives when we convince ourselves that we don’t have time to try something new: from a new software at work to yoga on the weekends, because we are too busy and “already don’t have enough time in the day.” But if we knew that trying the new software could help us get ahead at work or that yoga could reinforce a healthy lifestyle that prevents us from getting a disease, we might find a way to make time for these new activities.
When consulting our clients on their strategies, and more specifically issues related to adoption and growing their usage of our mentoring software, we will occasionally encounter the client who comes to us for guidance because they have run into employees who say they don’t have time to participate. In the majority of instances, it’s not that employees actually don’t want to participate; it’s more an issue of them not knowing what the solution can do for them or the lack of an answer to the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) question. And because being busy is a legitimate reality for many of us, it is reasonable for us to hesitate in prioritizing something new until we understand how it can personally benefit us. But once you help people understand the value of something new, most are willing to try it.
When implementing a new technology, if you find your users or yourself saying, “I don’t have time” or “Our people don’t have time,” be willing to ask the question as to whether the root cause is truly one of time, or possibly one of a lack of understanding. If it is the latter, it is within your control to influence a different outcome.
Consider these steps for helping potential users of any new technology understand what’s in it for them.
Understand who your audience is and what motivates them
There is a very good chance that you will find your audience is actually multiple groups of people with different points of motivation. For example, the concerns and motivations of a sales force may be different than those of an IT team. Take the time to identify each of your audiences and what it is that interests them. Take this in-depth knowledge of your organization’s audiences and their motivations into consideration when you create internal marketing to promote participation in your new technology.
Develop unique value points that appeal to each of your identified audiences
While you might develop an overall brand that speaks to a big-picture value of a new system, such as that the solution enables people to do their jobs with greater efficiency and effectiveness, how the system delivers these benefits could vary from audience to audience. You need to develop messaging that speaks to your unique audiences and that appeals to them based on your understanding of their needs. For example, what matters most to your employees in finance or IT? What matters most to your younger workers or those on the cusp of retirement? What about your workers with young children or those who work in a different country? If the manner in which value is described does not resonate with a particular audience, they will struggle to see the WIIFM, and the likelihood of them engaging with a new system or process drops. Thus, understanding how to communicate the value and benefits of participating in the new software—in a way that your different employee groups or subsets will best understand them—is critical to increasing adoption of your new system.
Meet your audiences where they are
If you know who your audiences are and have developed a good message for them, but they don’t ever receive your message, then you are obviously no better off. Just as different audiences have different interests and needs, you may also find that they communicate differently. Work to understand how your audiences communicate and then use that to your advantage. Is there a departmental portal or community of practice where certain audiences congregate? Do employees of different generations communicate differently (e.g., do some prefer email while others prefer social forums)? Can you gather the support and assistance from someone in each audience who has a strong influence over that group? Once you determine the best way to reach out to each of your audiences, then you can work to get the unique message that will resonate with them in front of them.
The above approach doesn’t only apply to our River solution; it is essentially universal to helping with user adoption for any new software or process. Just remember, when people say, “I don’t have time” for a new system or process, what they may likely mean is, “I don’t understand the value of participating.” To combat frustrations with adoption and get the most of your technological investments, ensure that you’ve clearly and purposefully communicated the WIIFM to your employees, so everyone knows what they can expect to gain from engaging in the new technology or process.