In light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution rapidly transforming the trades, integrating new technologies has become a powerful competitive advantage. Whether it's adopting state-of-the-art machinery, incorporating smart factory solutions, or leveraging the power of automation, embracing technological change is a pivotal step for manufacturing facilities, in particular.
However, the successful implementation of these technologies requires more than just adding new equipment to the factory floor and turning them on—it demands a well-thought-out approach known as technology change management.
In this blog, we define what innovation change management for employees means and offer 5 change management tools and techniques for a successful digital transformation.
What Is Change Management for New Technology Implementation?
Change management is a structured process that organizations use to facilitate the transition from their current state to a desired future state. It involves systematically planning, communicating, and executing changes to ensure a smooth and effective adoption of the latest innovations.
Any significant change that impacts the way a company operates, whether in terms of technology, processes, culture, or compliance, is when a change management strategy should be put in place. Currently, change management for new technology implementation is the most relevant form of change management for the trades.
When leadership sees the transformative potential of new technology, it’s easy for them to get excited about adopting it. However, it’s important to gain buy-in from employees through a structured change management process since they are the ones who will primarily be affected by the change.
Next, we discuss 5 change management tools and techniques when introducing new technology in the trades.
5 Change Management Tools and Techniques
While we encourage you to work with a professional who specializes in organizational change, here are 5 technology change management best practices that will help you prepare for the road ahead.
1. Set Clear Goals
Before you get carried away with “shiny object syndrome,” consider the end goals of your investment in new technology. For example, setting key performance indicators (KPIs) like reducing downtime, increasing efficiency, and improving safety, provides a tangible focus for the company’s efforts during implementation. Clarify your goals by making them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Regularly monitoring progress against these goals creates accountability and allows adjustments to be made as needed throughout the change journey to stay on target.
2. Create a Communication Plan
Clear and consistent communication is the backbone of effective change management technology adoption. Decisions that significantly impact your employees should be explained. Create communication plans that outline what, when, and how information will be shared. Make space early on for questions and keep communication lines open throughout the change process. Keep your workforce informed and involved along the way so they don’t feel like the change is uncontrollably happening to them.
3. Address the Human Element
One key aspect of change management for new technology implementation is recognizing and addressing the human element. Skilled trades rely heavily on experienced craftsmen, and introducing new technologies can be met with resistance or skepticism. Change management for employees focuses not only on the technical aspects of implementation but also on managing the emotional and cultural shifts within the workforce. Listen to your people and address their concerns, mitigating opposition to the plan.
4. Provide Skill Development and Training
New technology won’t make much of a difference if no one knows how to use it. Training and development programs provide employees with the knowledge and skills required to adapt to new technologies. Some workers will need to upskill, increasing their capabilities within the same role. Others will need to reskill, developing a completely new set of skills to prepare them for a different role. Both upskilling and reskilling are necessary for your tradesmen to effectively use the technology once implemented.
5. Establish a Feedback Loop
Establishing a feedback loop creates a two-way communication channel between leadership and the workforce. This allows for ongoing assessment of the change process, helping identify issues and continuously improve things over time. Change management for technology implementation isn’t a quick process. It continues even after the machine is installed or the software is integrated with your systems. There will inevitably be unanticipated effects of the change that require you to be agile, iterating until your desired results are achieved.
As a final piece of advice, don’t change things all at once. Too much change that happens fast and frequently leads to change fatigue, decreasing your chances of success.
Find the Skilled Workers You Need Now
As America’s premier skilled labor travel staffing agency, Skillwork is the bridge between tradesmen and employers in the U.S. While we champion the benefits of technology in the trades, we also emphasize the importance of highly skilled workers.
In the midst of change, you may need a tradesman who’s already equipped with the skills needed to operate the advanced machinery you just installed, helping you get up and running quickly. Or maybe you need a temporary worker to step in while someone on your team reskills. Either way, we can help.
The talent you need likely isn’t available in your local area, given the skilled trades labor shortage. At Skillwork, we help employers in the trades augment their workforce with skilled workers from across the country.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can support your company during times of change.