Change Management.

One of the questions that came from an attendees of this seminar recently was “One of our Directors does not want to move to e-business as he prefers to physically sign each piece of paper”.

This particular question may be of interest to you as it introduces a topic that that will certainly affect you when you decide to implement any new concept to your company including e-business and that is change management

What is really behind this question is that the director mentioned does not want to change the way he works.  I am positive you will experience similar reluctance from your staff when you come to implement e-business.

It has been defined that people experience different feelings as they go through the process of change, these are;

1.    Denial
2.    Anger
3.    Sadness
4.    Fear
5.    Trading
6.    Readjustment
7.    Acceptance
8.    Commitment

These different phases were first developed when dealing with grief counselling.  I am not saying that implementing an e-business is as traumatic as loosing a loved one so these feelings will not be as strong but now that you know about them you will see your staff go through each phase.  How you deal with this will depend upon each situation, the people involved and your management style.
Because these symptoms can be quite subtle you can expect these types of statement at each phase.

1.    “Our company cannot benefit from e-business” (Denial)
2.    “The last time we tried this type of thing it was a disaster.” (Anger)
3.    “I am too old to learn new systems” (Sadness)
4.    “Will this result in me losing my job?” (Fear)

Then they will start to be more positive and we start seeing these types of statement

5.    “If we use the electronic forms can I have a new PC?” (Trading)
6.    “e-business will resulting my expenses being paid faster” (Readjustment)
7.    “I know of other lines of business that can be automated” (Acceptance)
8.    “e-Business has improved my working life” (Commitment)

The faster you can move your staff through these phases the greater the commitment at the end.

But back to our problem director who we discovered he was in the Fear phase.  What we discovered was that he was suffering from “Change Fatigue”. He had to cope with a lot of change in his personal and business life recently and he did not want any more.  What we did was look at these areas of change with the objective of presenting signing and approving documents as part of an existing changing process, this made it more acceptable than being “something else new”. The obvious area was mobile phones.  Here constant change is an acceptable part of owning a mobile phone, new features and services and with regular replacement handsets are the norm.  It was presented to him that he uses electronic forms on his mobile phone, to help move to the “Trading” phase he was offered a new handset with a larger display to make using e-forms easier.