COMMENTARY: 7 reasons why your team is afraid of using technology
There is an abundance of new technology available to dealerships today, all designed to dramatically improve operations. But that technology is worthless if it isn’t used, or used improperly; and, too often, it is abandoned because of implementation challenges.
At my dealerships, we have learned through long experience that teams will only truly adopt a technology when they understand its benefit and find it easy to use. While much of today’s new technology is both useful and usable, it can also be complicated, requiring both time and resources to implement.
New technology can be scary, and we have found that there are 7 common pitfalls that can stand in the way of successful implementation; but the good news is that there are proven tips to avoid those pitfalls and leverage the benefits of today’s rapidly evolving dealership tech.
As you read these tips, a few key themes will become apparent. First is involvement. Involvement leads to commitment. The second is communication; it is critical that there are processes and systems for open communication with everyone involved. As marketers say, “say it seven different times, seven different ways.”
Last is psychological safety. Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor, coined the phrase “team psychological safety,” defining psychology safety in this Harvard Business Review article as “a shared belief held by members of a team that it’s OK to take risks, to express their ideas, to speak up with questions, and to admit mistakes — all without fear of negative consequences.”
Seven reasons why your team is afraid of using technology
1. It wasn’t their idea: Most people don’t like being told what to do and tend to resist having other people’s wills forced on them. To avoid resistance, ramp up involvement and include as much of your team in as much of the implementation process as possible. I once asked a group of managers to pick the date they wanted to go live with a new system, only to be surprised by how quickly they wanted to implement it. They just wanted to get it over with. But that reaction would have been much different had senior management mandated that short time-frame.
Tip: Involve team members in creating the implementation plan with measurable milestones and make sure it is widely and clearly communicated to everyone.
2. Fear of looking stupid: People like being good at things. This is especially true with high performers who are used to being the best. But, as with any skill, you have to be bad at it before you can be good at it. Think back to learning to tie your shoe, it was awkward at first, but now you can do it without thinking.
Tip: Be explicit that it will take some people time to get up to speed, and it is okay to not be an expert at the beginning. Make sure there are accessible channels for people to ask questions and get support. And, most importantly, make sure no one is ever publicly embarrassed for asking a question or making a mistake.
3. WIFM (What’s In it For Me): Team members might feel that it is a lot of time and effort to use a new technology, with no real payoff. So, be sure to share the “why,” the problem the technology solves, why it is important for the organization and for each individual. It may be as simple as “the change is going to happen,” so the faster they get up to speed, the less disruption in their work life, or it may be that the company needs it to be legally compliant. Often, it is a combination.
Tip: Make sure that whatever the ‘why’ is you share it clearly and frequently. Engage the team to come up with the “why” and reasons to use the technology. Over-communicate why the technology is useful and how (after learning it) it is usable.
4. The technology doesn’t work right: A lot of technology is complicated. Users have to be set up, it has to be integrated with other systems; PCs and tablets have to be properly configured, and features have to be enabled or disabled. There is a good chance that there will be multiple tweaks along the way. Many dealerships have implemented expensive systems and technology, only to find that, after years of use, it was never properly set up. Don’t let that be your dealership!
Tip: Make sure your team has a way to communicate concerns about the technology, that they know it is ok for them to express concerns, and that their concerns are taken seriously.
5. The technology is not perfect: Sadly, no technology is perfect. Many systems are oversold and there is a good chance the old system did something the new system does not do or was much easier to use than the new system. If this is the case, it is important to be honest and transparent about it.
Tip: Manage expectations from the beginning. Set the expectation that the technology is great, but not perfect, and that implementation will take time and effort. Allow room for people to express concerns, and help them refocus on the positives of the new technology and the “why” of using it.
6. It’s going to cost your team money: For commissioned or performance-based personnel, time spent learning new systems and training is time away from making money. And if it takes time to get up to speed on the new system, even if it is short term, then that is (or can be perceived as) money directly out of their pockets. Be aware of these concerns, real or imagined, because it is hard to be excited about a new technology that is going to cost you money.
Tip: Consider providing financial bonuses for team members who adopt the technology or guarantees that temporary drops in production will not cost them money.
7. Employees are overwhelmed: Your team can also worry that a new technology will add to their work burden. If they are already overloaded, maxed out or overwhelmed, one more thing to do and learn can be downright terrifying. If the team feels they are already barely holding on, how are they going to react to more workload?
Tip: Ensure team members are confident that they can speak up if they are feeling overwhelmed. Check in prior to implementation and make a resource plan to ease the workload so they can prioritize adopting the new technology. Bring in additional short-term support, such as a temporary employee, to ease the burden during implementation.
Technology has been key to advancing our industry, and ignoring it is not an option. These tips have a proven success record in our dealerships. I hope they can help make your dealership’s next technology implementation smooth and successful, creating bottom, and top, line benefits for your dealership, your team, and your customers. Remember, that while it is important to always have a plan, successful change rarely follows every step of that plan. So, be flexible, focus on the end result, and don’t give up. Change works best when it is change done by people, not change done to people.
Matthew Phillips is CEO of Car Pros Automotive Group