Your teams are busy working away on client projects and ‘ping’, a calendar invite pops up inviting them to several training sessions on a system they’ve likely never heard of, with a stranger they’ve also never heard of. You hear a few mumbles around the studio “I’ve not got the capacity”, “not something else”, “we’re always last to know” etc.
But actually, this is to be expected. It’s human nature to resist change. And in a busy workplace, if you suddenly announce an incoming mandatory shift, you’re already fighting a losing battle when it comes to adoption. Expecting people to learn a whole new system, which they felt was sprung on them and their workload at the very last minute, is something of a reach to say the least.
So, how can you effectively support your team through their training as you migrate to your new system?
Here are five key things you can do you get everyone on board… and keep them there.
Communicate in advance
Once you’ve chosen your new agency management software, you need to communicate what’s coming to everyone, telling them at what point they’ll be involved and what’s expected of them. With that, you need to share the ‘why’. They should be aware of the benefits this change will bring to the agency, and equally to their day-to-day roles and responsibilities.
If they can appreciate the solution you invested in this system for, it’ll get a warmer welcome. You’ll also see better engagement during training, and a willingness to really get on board.
Map out the journey
Highlighting the scope of the process can make it feel much more manageable, so talk your teams through the stages from start to finish. If they know they’re on session 3 out of 5, for example, rather than just having modules endlessly fired at them, they’ll feel a better sense of accomplishment. Give all your team members access to dates, times and topics and they know what to expect when and how long it’ll take.
Reiterate the value of their input
One of the big steps in onboarding is emphasising that your system is only as good as the data put into it. And who’s entering that data? Your people. Keep telling them how valuable this attention to detail, time and effort is, and how it all contributes to the big picture. Spending a little time undergoing training will elevate their role, giving them the opportunity not just to champion change but to own it. Explain to them that by investing the time to learn the system now, it will make their lives much easier in the long run, rather than constant stop-starting once your system is live.
Once you’ve engaged everyone in the training, it’s important to stay in touch – don’t just leave them to get on with it and hope for the best. Your teams need to feel heard. Ask them for feedback on the content, pace, structure and engagement levels of the sessions, and make sure there’s space for them to ask questions. You could appoint a ‘champion’ to represent the team’s thoughts, feelings and feedback – consolidating it like this can be easier to navigate. Essentially, make sure you follow up and answer. There’s no point asking for feedback unless you’re going to take action, so don’t leave your teams hanging!
Regularly checking in also means you can make sure the right people are on the right sessions, and that everyone who should be attending is there. You can gauge any potential resistance, too, acting on it before it’s too late. Of course you want buy in from everyone, but ultimately they need to know this training isn’t optional: it’s the key to your agency’s future.
Go for positive reinforcement
Instructing people to simply take training isn’t a great way to start, and anything perceived as lack of encouragement or support could switch them off. On the flip side, rewards and positive reinforcement have been shown to strengthen responses and behaviours, boosting motivation. So, try to intersperse your training with things like team treats, or offer an incentive at the end of training to encourage them to keep going. Above all, keep on telling everyone how much you appreciate them and the time they’ve taken to get on board.
Change can often be tricky in busy agencies. And this isn’t just asking people to learn a new system, it’s about changing the behaviours and processes they’ve become comfortable and familiar with. So you do need a gentle approach, while at the same time not giving any get-out clauses.
The chances are, your teams will only have to do this training once (although there’s always more to learn, but that’s a whole other topic!) and once it’s done they’ll feel much more relaxed about the new ways of working. Trust your trainer. We’ve done this many, many times and we understand how tricky it can be. We’re here to help, support and encourage… and our experience has taught us that these five steps can really help you to smooth the way for your teams as you unlock amazing new opportunities for your agency.