Almost twenty years ago, a Harvard sophomore sat in his dorm room, glued to his computer monitor watching an estimated 1,000+ registrations poured in overnight for a brand new website.
The site’s growth in the first 24 hours was a precursor to what was to come. Since then, this site has grown to 1.968 billion daily users – with roughly 37% of all the people on Earth now using the platform.
Of course, we’re talking about Facebook, which by all accounts, has become one of the most crucial technology forces in the 21st century. And while Facebook often receives criticism, there’s no denying that the company and platform represent the global embrace of a significant technological advancement that has had a long-lasting impact.
But Facebook’s global adoption wasn’t without reluctance to change – in many ways, similar to the challenges event venues and businesses face when embracing new tools.
Software purchases and implementations that are good for business are often stalled because of user pushback. For example, in some hotels and convention centers, employees still use pencil and paper to show prospective clients what can be done with a room layout rather than using more accurate and faster software.
Despite the benefits, why are many workers averse to change – specifically automation technology designed to streamline workflows – and how can managers help them positively cope with change?
Let’s take a look.
Why is it difficult for some people to change work processes?
In general, people are creatures of habit. We operate best when we know what is expected of us.
So, when something is set into motion to upset the proverbial apple cart, whether it’s a novel platform adoption or a new add-on tool to improve well-established procedures, change (or even the anxiety over impending change) can become unsettling for all involved.
Why? Emotions tend to run high during any change, especially if employees are left wondering if a new tool or technology will make their job more difficult. Some misinterpret change and worry that new tools are designed to replace their role.
Beyond emotions, generational differences also play a role. With Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z often working side-by-side, understanding each group’s unique strengths, experiences, and expectations is a critical challenge in managing any change in work processes.
For example, “Baby Boomers entered a workforce that relied on phone calls, later incorporating email. Generation X is heavy email users, but they tend to heavily incorporate texting into their communication repertoire. Millennials and Gen Z workers are digital natives, using texting, social media, video chat, and more – all from the palm of their hand.”
As a result of these experiences, studies have shown there are generational character trait differences:
- “Millennials are natural risk-takers…they are curious learners and ambitious. They are often dependent upon technology and prefer to work autonomously.”
- “Baby boomers are goal-focused, disciplined team players. They are usually confident in social situations and are often open to new ideas and practices – providing they can see the benefits and consider the change to be an improvement.”
How can managers help employees be less averse to change?
When it comes to automation-based changes, teams can also be hesitant to change if the focus is solely on improving the organization’s bottom line or operational efficiency.
As business and technology writer Kevin Casey explains, “This is an opportunity to shift the negative narrative about automation – especially regarding job impacts – in a different direction. How can you as a leader use it to create new opportunities for the people already on your team or to help them advance their careers in different directions? If you’re embarking on a large-scale automation initiative and haven’t carved out time and resources for people to pursue new roles and skills that will be needed long-term, your strategy is incomplete.”
The pandemic forced many venues and their teams to make significant changes in very short timeframes. But with many of those pivots deemed necessary for survival, there wasn’t much time to educate or bring staff on board with the efforts.
To sustain long-lasting change, venue owners and managers can help employees be more receptive to pending change with the following:
- Communication. Educate your teams about changes early. Up-front communication and education help employees understand where the change is coming from, reducing incorrect assumptions or misunderstandings about why the status quo is changing.
Be sure to communicate clearly:
- Why the change is happening
- How the change will impact them
- What to expect during the change
- What to expect after the change
And don’t forget the importance of listening throughout the communication process. Give staff the opportunity to ask questions, comment, and suggest their implementation ideas too.
Involvement. Identify key team members to become internal advocates and help lead and motivate others to adopt the change. These “champions of change” can help explain the need and benefits of any changes – while also helping with the tricky task of getting other team members on board.
Boost employee involvement by:
- Highlighting “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM)
- Facilitating discussions between change leads and the impacted groups
- Involving employees in identifying a proposed solution and future state
Training. Implementing new tools and replacing long-held ways of doing things can present challenges for any organization, and there’s always a chance that some employees won’t adapt.
Practical training helps employees understand the reason behind the change, provides resources and support to help drive it and can help leaders identify issues before they become problems.
The benefits of inducing/supporting change management
For both venues and their teams, change can be a good thing.
Karen McCullough, a nationally known keynote speaker and expert on change and workforce trends, shares, “Change in an organization lead to many positive aspects – that lead to retaining a competitive edge and also remaining relevant in your business area. Change encourages innovation, develops skills, develops staff and leads to better business opportunities, and improves staff morale.”
She further explains, “Companies who are stuck in their ways or who are unbending in the way they approach the business are opting for a stale working environment. This environment doesn’t have the capacity to adapt to new possibilities including creative ideas …ideas that may lead to an overall improved operation or maybe a totally fresh new product or service.”
Another way to look at it: a practice, policy, product, or service that is relevant today may not have customer value tomorrow. Case in point: brides who see virtual walls moved and room designs updated in real-time during an HGTV binge likely expect to see their reception room diagram online and not on a piece of paper that can’t easily be edited. Venues that embrace collaborative automation tools like Allseated OPS gain a competitiveness over other venues while improving the creative process of working with prospects and customers and delivering on clients’ much-changed expectations.
Let’s not forget the earlier WIIFM point for employees, either. Team members who embrace new technology and automation tools not only help the business but help themselves too. McCullough explains, “The staff who are able to see the benefits in change are often the most valuable to your company – not only will they develop personally, but will also create situations where the business will automatically grow alongside them.”
Spurred by the pandemic, the event industry has significantly changed over the last two years – especially in virtual events and the metaverse. Like Facebook’s evolution, it’s time to keep embracing change in other event planning fundamentals, such as creating and sharing floorplans.
Discover the benefits of automation tools and increase revenue and ROI for your venue.