I am an IT Manager for a mid-sized company. At our corporate office, we are switching from Outlook/Exchange to a cloud email platform that offers more than just plain Outlook could provide.
Some of the employees grumbled when the change was first announced (they are all used to Outlook), but most recognized that it is a change that was for the better. They are attending the training and learning the ropes with the new platform.
A little background on the way I'm tackling this transition:
- Outlook will remain available to everyone until the cutoff date. This way everyone can use both platforms at their own discretion to become familiar with the new system on their own time.
- Group training sessions on the different aspects of the software are taking places every couple weeks. They are hands on and Q/A take place.
- Online information is posted so users can train themselves on their own time.
However, one employee (an older woman, if it's relevant), seems basically disgusted with the change. During the transition process she has done the following:
- Pointed out even the most minute differences between the new and old software, even those that are changes for the better, in a tone that is not constructive.
- During training, using Q/A time to point out as many flaws as time allows, and essentially attempting to reinforce her opinion that the change is unwanted, again, in a way that is not constructive or helpful to the group.
- More recently, stating that the reason she is refusing to use the new platform is because "only those under 50 can understand it". Likewise, she claims the new platform was simply chosen because I'm young and software like this comes second nature to "kids like me".
- Attempting to rally support from others in the office, not in the form of constructive criticism, but in the form of dissent and general rudeness (it seems to be becoming rudeness directed at me). In private conversations with these other folks, none of them seem to take major issue with the transition.
It's starting to frustrate me; I completely understand how unwanted change can be difficult, especially when you have a busy schedule and learning something new is time consuming and seems unnecessary when you already know the old way of doing it.
However, this change is necessary to meet specific communication needs in multiple areas of the company. It's already been decided and approved by upper-level management, and I've made considerable effort and planning to ensure the change occurs slowly, smoothly and with plenty of time for everyone to learn the ropes without getting overwhelmed.
So here's my question:
As a novice when it comes to issues like these, what steps can I take to better do the following:
- Ease the user's fears or frustrations with the change
- Help the user understand why the change is being made
- Train the user in a way that works for them
- Prevent the disagreement from becoming personal
This question was asked several years ago, so at this point it's already water under the bridge. However, please take note that the original question was not a prompt for commentary on which email platform is the best. We made this decision with several industry-specific needs in mind, which I don't care to divulge. The question is about how best to handle an employee who is resistant to change, with the goal of reaching the best outcome for everyone.