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Current situation

I am working in a team where we regularly need to process raw data from our business units. This requires multiple manual steps (export from system A to system B, etc.) which are quite repetitive and time consuming.

The management has identified this weakness. Therefore I have been designed to set up an improved process with almost no manual intervention.

I have successfully implemented this new process but there remain a problem:

  • How should I deal with my colleagues which refuse to use this new process?

Why not using the new process?

Some colleagues are "old school" and prefer to do exactly the same work without experimenting something new even when they know the benefits. Furthermore, they probably feel that I “steal” them their work, which makes them less essential for the company.

Is it a problem?

Basically I can just ignore my colleagues that are still doing inefficient work, because this a problem for the management to identify and react to such cases. At the same time I have an incentive to ensure that my new process has a good acceptance in the team.

Let's convince my colleagues

I tried to convince my colleagues by showing them the benefits for them from the new process (they can focus on their core expertise) and explaining them in an understandable way how the new process works (to avoid the “black box” feeling).

The question

What is the best way to address this problem with my boss?

As a side remark:

  • the old process can not be disabled
  • we all share the same boss
  • the process is already in place for 3-4 months (it was communicated one year in advance that the process would be improved)
  • Thanks, pruning my comment. What steps or things have you done to convince your colleagues that refuse? – DarkCygnus Aug 21 at 21:58
  • How long has the new implementation been in place? – Luck Aug 21 at 22:02
  • @DarkCygnus: Thanks, just updated the post. – heinertillo Aug 21 at 22:04
  • @Luck: Updated my post. (3-4 months) – heinertillo Aug 21 at 22:07
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    @Luck seems that 3-4 months plus a year in advance is time enough for them to at least try to adapt. I sense that these coworkers are, perhaps, just being stubborn (resistance to change is quite a thing). – DarkCygnus Aug 21 at 22:09
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I tried to convince the colleagues but it failed. What is the best way to address this problem with my boss?

Seems that you already tried asking nicely, so you are correct that taking this to your boss in a professional way is the next step.

I suggest you reach to your boss privately and expose the situation as you described it here.

Stick to the facts, state that the new process is already finished and in place and that everybody has been brought up-to-speed with its use. Then, I suggest you ask your boss what should be done to ensure it is being used correctly and to ensure a smooth transition between processes.

This way you can probe first if your boss isn't already aware of the situation, or if there are already steps being taken to help the transition.

If you see your boss is not aware or that there is no explicit transition plan (that is, they are assuming users will do the new process), then you can proceed to express that you have perceived that some colleagues have not yet fully adapted and are not using the new process. Your boss will then know how to handle it.

3

Congrats on thinking proactively to make your organization more efficient and for coming up with an actual solution!

A good way to approach this objectively is to tie your recommendation to your company's corporate goals / initiatives / core values --- which relate to automation / process improvement / efficiency. By doing that, you can diasarm your colleagues on your intent. You should also seek executive sponsorship / leadership support with your manager or other leader that is close to the corporate initiative that relates to your automation idea.

Use a tops down (leadership support) and bottom up (grassroots approach tied to company goals). Good luck!

2
  1. Have hard evidence proving that the new process is better.
  2. Have the new process fully documented.
  3. Get your manager to endorse you doing an official meeting where you present all of this to your co-workers.

You keep talking about how your co-workers have reasons not to use this new process but it's your boss who is choosing not to make it a requirement so there could be reasons for that (which have nothing to do with the quality of your solution, by the way!)

You should feel good that you achieved your target results! It's not a knock against you if people refuse to use it & you've provided good documentation.

2

I tried to convince my colleagues by showing them the benefits for them

I agree with answers that getting your boss and leadership involved is a reasonable first step.

However, I do think that this is a good opportunity for you to develop your leadership skills and increase your change management knowledge. You have already attempted to convince and show the benefits of the new process, which is well done! That is one step in the change process. Having two way processes is an important step in creating change. Doing 1:1 with the important people in your team to gather their feedback, pushback, concerns and their resistance for change is crucial (Change Management : Hubspot). You could be right and they could just be "old school" and they are just resisting change because it may impact their jobs, however, there may also be other reasons that you may not have appreciated. Usually there are lots of unintended consequences, or a sense of loss of power or training differences that you have that they don't have that they are too embarrassed to mention. So having a lot of chats is an important first step.

In Kotter's 8 step change model, the first step is to create a sense of urgency. What is the impact of not using the change? How many minutes or hours are wasted per day? Is there a way of objectively and transparently tracking this change? It is useful information to gather before you have your chat with the boss and leadership. It shows that you are able to map out and analyze the impact and urgency of change. The data collected might also increase your understanding about how important this change is compared to other changes as well.

Sounds like your team is in denial, which is the first step of the Change Curve model. Any change brings up a lot of emotions and insecurities which may need to be managed (hence why change is so difficult! Even simple change). If people feel that you are "stealing work from them", is there a way to encourage or share or give them some limelight too? Is there a safe way for them to experiment with the changes? Give space for them to ask silly questions without embarrassing themselves in front of others? Allow them to go through all the fears, confusion and uncertainty that is expected with any, even small changes. You would be surprised how difficult change is, but humans get attached to even the of smallest things, things you would never expect, so be prepared to support and go through the emotions with them.

Going through all these steps would make for a great blurb for your resume too. Shows that you are able to manage people, understand change deeply, and are keen to learn.

  • 1
    +1. Good point about talking to important people on the team. When I've created a new process/key workflow tool I would talk to the most senior non-management person on the team and get feedback at the very start (you should genuinely be interested in their opinion). These people tend to talk to management more often than the rest of the team and will be promoting your solution to them (even if it's just a, "yeah, it's good." I didn't mention this in my post because I was more focused on what happens after you deliver. Hopefully it's not too late for this to work. – HenryM Aug 23 at 13:32
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    You did mention talking in your post, but I was keen to emphasise the listening and rapport building part of the equation. Most people don't understand and really dismiss the "silly" emotions that people have to "small" or insignificant things. Humans get attached to all sorts of weird things, so being thoughtful really helps people feel safe enough to try something that might be threatening to them... – Poidah Aug 23 at 15:30

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